Minnesota Public Safety Official Calls Death of George Floyd 'Murder'

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington didn't mince words during his Friday press conference when he characterized George Floyd's death while in police custody a 'murder.'

Harrington was speaking specifically about shock and anger that many in his state, and the country, are feeling after a video of Floyd's in-custody death surfaced this week.

"The majority of the great people of Minnesota and the great people of Minneapolis... are still having their guts ripped out about the Floyd murder, and we'll call it murder because that's what it looked like to me," he said.

Floyd, 46, was arrested on Monday outside the Cup Foods in Minneapolis after he allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase. He was met by four police officers, who were identified as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng.

Video was taken by bystanders showing Floyd handcuffed and on his stomach with Chauvin's knee across Floyd's neck.

The video ignited four days of unrest in Minneapolis that resulted in multiple injuries and arrests, and a police station being set ablaze.

Harrington said many of those protesters were not there to mourn Floyd's death but were there to wreak havoc.

"The people who were out there...at three o'clock in the morning were not the good people of Minnesota and not the good people of Minneapolis," he said. "When they saw the National Guard, and the Minnesota State Patrol...moving down the street, the vast majority of them did what we thought they'd do. They left."

On Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey asked Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to file criminal charges against Chauvin.

"If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. George Floyd deserves justice. His family deserves justice, the black community deserves justice, and our city deserves justice," Frey said.

On Friday, Chauvin was taken into custody by state investigators charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death. If found guilty, Chauvin could spend up to 25 years in prison on the third-degree murder charge, and up to 10-years in prison and a $20,000 fine for the manslaughter charge, according to the Minnesota Statute.

"We are continuing to review the evidence, and there may be subsequent charges later," Freeman said. "This case has moved with extraordinary speed. We have never charged a case in that kind of time frame, and we can only try a case when we have sufficient admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Minneapolis Protests
A Minnesota National Guard soldier patrols a street on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as protesters demand justice for George Floyd who died in police custody. - Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen in an explosive video pressing his knee to the neck of handcuffed George Floyd for at least five minutes on May 25, was arrested earlier on May 29, said John Harrington, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Kerem Yucel/Getty