MINNEAPOLIS (CN) — A Minnesota judge set bail at $1.25 million Monday for the fired Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, which sparked massive protests against racism and police violence around the world.
Derek Chauvin made his first appearance at 12:45 p.m. before Judge Jeannice Reding at the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility in downtown Minneapolis, about three miles north of the site where he was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for just short of nine minutes on May 25.
The subsequent death of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in police custody sparked protests and civil unrest in Minneapolis that soon spread across the country and around the world.
The National Guard was called in May 28 to enforce a now-repealed curfew in Minneapolis after property damage, theft and arson ravaged the neighborhood near the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct, where Chauvin was stationed.
The precinct, known locally for the “renegade” cops it harbored, was abandoned and burned down May 28. The widespread and continuing protests have led to a commitment from many city leaders to dismantle the MPD.
Meanwhile, a curfew in New York City was lifted for the first time in 11 days on Sunday night, and Mayor Bill DeBlasio promised to shift funding from the NYPD to youth and social services.
Protests remained tense in Seattle, where a man drove a car into a crowd of protesters Sunday and opened fire on them before running toward a police line and turning himself in. One demonstrator was wounded.
The three officers charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin had their own first appearances last Thursday before Judge Paul Scoggin, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Attorneys for two of them, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, placed the blame for Floyd’s death squarely on Chauvin, a 19-year MPD veteran, at that hearing, pointing out that both Kueng and Lane each had fewer than five full-time shifts under their belts at the time of Floyd’s death.
Charging documents say that Lane asked Chauvin twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side, but Chauvin refused. An attorney for Chauvin’s partner, Tou Thao, did not make efforts to place blame on Chauvin at Thursday’s hearing.
All four officers’ cases are being handled by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison after protesters demanded they be taken out of the hands of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
Calls for Freeman’s resignation have grown in Minneapolis in the weeks since Floyd’s death. Freeman had initially charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Ellison upgraded those charges shortly after taking over the case.