The governor of Minnesota has activated the National Guard “out of an abundance of caution” over public safety concerns and the chance of civil unrest following the release from jail of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd.
Chauvin has been released on a US$1,000,000 non-cash bond.
Floyd, a black man, died in May after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes as Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
Video of Floyd’s killing sparked worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder.
Three other officers who were at the scene are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. They previously posted bail of US$750,000 and have been free pending trial.
All four officers were fired and are scheduled to face trial together in March, but the judge is considering a request to have them tried separately.
Defence attorneys for Chauvin have asked for charges against him to be dismissed, arguing that Floyd’s alleged drug use, not the improper use of force was to blame for his death.
Floyd’s family lawyer Ben Crump said in a written statement, “The system of due process worked for Chauvin and afforded him his freedom while he awaits trial. In contrast, George Floyd was denied due process, when his life was ended over a US$20 bill.”