MINNEAPOLIS >> The fired police officer charged with murder in the killing of George Floyd was expected to make a first appearance in a Minnesota courtroom today.
The hearing for Derek Chauvin, a 19-year veteran who will appear in the courtroom on video from jail, was to decide whether he should be released until trial on bail. Chauvin, who has been behind bars since he was arrested May 29, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder, a more serious count than he had originally faced. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
Chauvin, the white officer who placed his knee on the neck of Floyd for nearly nine minutes in a video that prompted anguish and outrage across the nation, has been a focus of anger, and activists said they feared he would not abide by bail restrictions if he is permitted to go home until trial.
Last week, the other three former officers accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death were each given a bail of at least $750,000. Lawyers for two of those men, both rookies who had just days on the job, blamed Chauvin, a training officer, and a third former officer has cooperated with authorities — all indications that the police officers will not be presenting a united front, unusual in cases where police are charged in a death.
All four men were fired the day after Floyd died, on May 25.
The protests started the next day in Minneapolis before spreading to the world. Although some protests have turned into violent clashes with police, and arsons and looting were reported in the early days in some protests, demonstrations were largely calm in recent days.
It is a temporary peace, activists cautioned, if Chauvin is not convicted.
“There is a real significant discrepancy between what happens when a policeman does something and a black man does something,” said one protester, Sara Semi, who just got “#icantbreathe” tattooed on her neck. “Chauvin needs to get life in prison if we want to see justice.”
A lawyer for Chauvin declined to comment.