Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis ex-policeman accused of killing unarmed black man George Floyd, has made his first court appearance, where his bail was set at $1.25 million.
Prosecutors cited the “severity of the charges” and public outrage as the reason for upping the former officer’s bail from $1 millio.
Derek Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other arresting officers are charged with aiding and abetting murder.
George Floyd’s death in May led to global protests and calls for police reform.
Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while he was being arrested in Minneapolis on May 25.
The 44-year-old and the three other police officers have since been fired.
Meanwhile, mourners in Houston, Texas, where George Floyd lived before moving to Minneapolis, have been viewing his body, publicly on display for six hours at The Fountain of Praise church.
On June 9, a private funeral service will be held in Houston. Memorial services have already been held in Minneapolis and North Carolina, where George Floyd was born.
It is believed a family member escorted George Floyd’s body on a flight to Texas on June 6.
Joe Biden is expected to visit George Floyd’s relatives in Houston to offer his sympathies. Aides to the former vice-president said he would also record a video message for June 9 service.
Derek Chauvin, a 19-year police veteran, did not enter a plea as he appeared via teleconference on June 8.
The former officer did not speak during the 15-minute hearing, and was handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit as he sat a small table.
Judge Jeannice M. Reding set a bail of $1.25 million with no preconditions, or $1 million with conditions that include Derek Chauvin not contacting George Floyd’s family, surrendering his firearms and not working in law enforcement or security as he awaits trial.
His lawyer did not object to the bail price.
Derek Chauvin is currently being held at the Minnesota state prison in Oak Park Heights, after being transferred several times.
Derek Chavin faces three separate charges: unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, for which the maximum penalties are prison terms of 40, 25 and 10 years respectively.
By bringing multiple charges, prosecutors give jurors a choice and increase the chances of a conviction.
Minneapolis city council has voted to ban chokeholds and neck restraints by police officers, and Democrats in Congress have unveiled sweeping legislation on police reform.
Anti-racism protests started by George Floyd’s death are now entering their third week in the US. Huge rallies have been held in several cities, including Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
With the rallying cries “Black Lives matter” and “No Justice, No Peace”, the demonstrations are among the largest US protests against racism since the 1960s. June 6 gatherings included a protest in the Texas town of Vidor, once infamous as a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group.
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