- Police officer Derek Chauvin was caught on camera choking George Floyd during an arrest
- CNN reporter who had been mistakenly arrested while reporting on the matter has been released
- Former US President Barack Obama expressed “anguish” at this incident
A US police officer whose alleged killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death during an arrest in the city of Minneapolis sparked protesting, has been arrested.
Derek Chauvin, who was seen in an explosive video pressing his knee to the neck of handcuffed Floyd for at least five minutes, was arrested earlier on Friday, said John Harrington, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
“I have just received information from Andrew Evans, the superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, that the officer who has been identified as Derek Chauvin in the death of Mr Floyd has been taken into custody by the BCA,” Harrington told reporters.
CNN reporter released
Earlier on Friday, police in Minneapolis arrested a black CNN reporter who had been with his film crew while reporting live. He was later released.
Officers gave no explanation as they escorted reporter Omar Jimenez away. He had just shown a protester being arrested when about half a dozen police officers in gas masks surrounded him. More than an hour later, the crew was released.
“What gave me one bit of comfort was that it happened on live TV,” Jimenez told viewers after he was released. “You don’t have to doubt my story – it’s not filtered in any way; you saw it with your own eyes.”
Floyd’s death sparked protesting in the US this week. The protests have featured the burning of a police precinct and businesses.
The striking footage of Jimenez’s arrest could add to racial tension in the city and across the country.
“A CNN reporter and his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves – a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. The authorities in Minnesota, including the governor, must release the three CNN employees immediately,” CNN wrote on Twitter before the crew were released.
The arrest was condemned by Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “It is unfathomable and upsetting to witness this structural racism in real time. We are closely monitoring this situation”, she said in a tweet.
Jimenez said the crew had been standing on a street for about an hour and a half before police activity kicked up. They moved onto a corner to get out of the way, he said.
On air, Jimenez told the officers wearing gas masks and face shields that he wanted to know where to move to get out of their way and explained he was a member of the press.
“This is among the state patrol unit that was advancing up the street, seeing and scattering the protesters at that point for people to clear the area. And so we walked away,” Jimenez said, before being told he was under arrest and handcuffed by two officers. “Why am I under arrest, sir?”
Walz, expected to have a news conference later on Friday, has declared a state of emergency in Minnesota and ordered the National Guard activated.
President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet that looters would be shot. Twitter hid Trump’s tweet with a warning for “glorifying violence”.
Protests also erupted in other major cities around the country, including Louisville, Kentucky, where police said seven people had been shot.
Floyd’s brother, Philonise, has urged protesters to be calm. “I don’t want them to lash out like that, but I can’t stop people right now. Because they have pain. They have the same pain that I feel,” he said in an interview with CNN.
“I want everything to be peaceful, but I can’t make everybody be peaceful. I can’t. It’s hard.”
Meanwhile, former president Barack Obama said Friday he shared the “anguish” of millions of Americans over the death of a black man killed by police in Minnesota and that racism cannot be “normal” in the United States.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” Obama said of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd and several other recent racial incidents in the country.
“It can’t be ‘normal,'” the first African-American president of the United States said in a statement.
– Compiled by Kerushun Pillay