The Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder in George Floyd’s death had his bail set Monday at $1 million US.
Derek Chauvin, 44, is also charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25 death. Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died after the white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, even after Floyd pleaded for air and then stopped moving.
Floyd’s death set off protests in Minneapolis that swiftly spread to cities around the U.S. and the globe. Chauvin and three other officers on the scene were fired the day after Floyd died.
Chauvin said almost nothing during an 11-minute hearing in which he appeared on closed-circuit television from Minnesota’s maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights. His attorney, Eric Nelson, did not contest the bail — raised from the $500,000 initially set in the case — and didn’t address the substance of the charges.
Nelson didn’t speak with reporters afterward.
Chauvin’s next appearance was set for June 29.
Three officers that responded to the call that ended with Floyd’s death — J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. They remain in the Hennepin County jail on $750,000 US bond.
Floyd’s death has ignited calls to reform the Minneapolis Police Department, which community activists have long accused of entrenched racial discrimination and brutality.
A majority of Minneapolis city council members said Sunday that they favour disbanding the department entirely, though they have yet to offer concrete plans for what would replace it.
“Nobody is saying we want to abolish health or safety,” council member Alondra Cano told WCCO-AM on Monday. “What we are saying is we have a broken system that is not producing the outcomes we want.”
Services in Houston, proposed legislation in D.C.
The state last week launched a civil rights investigation of the department. On Friday, the council approved a stipulated agreement that immediately banned the use of chokeholds and neck restraints and included several other changes. The investigation is ongoing.
Floyd’s body has arrived in Texas for a viewing planned Monday in Houston, followed by a service and burial Tuesday in nearby Pearland. The 46-year-old spent much of his life in the area before moving to Minneapolis.
Former vice-president Joe Biden met with Floyd’s family and is expected to provide a video message for the funeral service. A Biden aide on Sunday said that the Democratic candidate for president’s plans did not include attending the service.
In Washington, congressional Democrats unveiled their plan in response to the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
“We’re here to observe that pain,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, drawing on the nation’s founding with slavery.
“We’re here to respect the actions of the American people to speak out against that,” she said, before kneeling on one knee. “We are here to honour George Floyd.”
The Justice in Policing Act would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police chokeholds, among other changes. It outlines the most ambitious changes to law enforcement sought by Congress in years.
Rep. Karen Bass of California, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is leading the effort, called it “transformative.”
The draft document said the proposed legislation would revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved in misconduct “knowingly or with reckless disregard.”
The package would also change “qualified immunity” protections for police “to enable individuals to recover damages when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights,” it says.
And it would create a “National Police Misconduct Registry,” a database to try to prevent officers from transferring from one department to another with past misconduct undetected, the draft said.
The package stops short of answering calls by leading activists to “defund the police,” a push to dismantle or reduce financial resources to police departments that has struck new intensity in the weeks of protests since Floyd’s death.
It is unclear if law enforcement and the powerful police unions will back any of the proposed changes or if congressional Republicans will join the effort.
Before a news conference to unveil the bill, House and Senate Democrats kneeled for eight minutes, 46 seconds.