Why was George Floyd arrested? Circumstances of Minneapolis man's death explained ahead of Derek Chauvin trial

The trial of Derek Chauvin gets underway on March 29

George Floyd died in police custody on May 25, 2020 (Photo: Getty Images)

The death of George Floyd sent shockwaves round the world and sparked protests against police brutality across the United States.

Floyd, 46, was filmed repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes.

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The unarmed man lost consciousness and was pronounced dead in hospital an hour later.

George Floyd had been arrested for a non-violent crime prior to his death.

Why was George Floyd arrested?

George Floyd was arrested after a teenage shop assistant at Cup Foods grocery store accused him of paying for a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

When George Floyd refused to return the cigarettes, police were called to the scene.

A transcript of the phone call to the police was released by authorities with the shop assistant quoted to have said that Floyd was “drunk” and “not in control of himself”.

When officers arrive at the scene Mr Floyd was in a car with two other around the corner from the shop.

Officer Thomas Lane pulled out his gun after he approached the car – it has not been explained why the police officer felt it necessary to do this.

Prosecutors say that Officer Lane "put his hands on Mr Floyd, and pulled him out of the car", before Mr Floyd "actively resisted being handcuffed".

Mr Floyd was compliant once arrested by Officer Lane.

According to a police report George Floyd resisted arrest when officers tried to put him in a squad car. According to the police report Mr Floyd "stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic".

Following a struggle Mr Floyd was restrained by Officer Derek Chauvin, with three more police officers assisting in restraining the 46-year-old.

In footage from bystanders Officer Chauvin could be seen kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.

Once he lost consciousness Floyd was taken by officers to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Floyd said “I can’t breathe” twenty times.

What has Derek Chauvin been charged with?

Derek Chauvin is facing charges of second and third degree murder.

According to Minnesota statute someone who is guilty of second degree murder is defined as a person who “causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation."

Minnesota defines third-degree murder as the causing of death “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree.”

A person who is found guilty of third degree murder faces no more than 25 years in prison, while a person who is found guilty of second degree murder could face up to 40 years behind bars.