DETROIT Police Chief James Craig has called the Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on George Floyd a "cowardly officer" who "committed murder," and called for his immediate arrest.
"Probable cause clearly existed, that that officer – that cowardly officer – committed murder," Craig told MSNBC. "Arrest him. Arrest him now."
Craig, who has been a law enforcement officer for 44 years, said that while the "vast majority" of police officers are "some of the best of the best," he blames the officers who "were complicit and just stood there" while Derek Chauvin arrested Floyd.
Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, while onlookers and Floyd pleaded for him to stop, saying "I can't breathe."
"What about the one brave officer that could have stood up?" Craig said. "I give more credit to the onlookers who were trying to get these officers to stop. But instead other officers, sworn to protect and serve their community, opted to do nothing. Senseless."
Chauvin, who'd had 18 complaints filed against him prior to Floyd's arrest on May 25, was fired earlier this week along with the other three officers present at the scene.
Craig has spoken out multiple times in the past several days calling for Chauvin's arrest.
“If a civilian would have done what this officer did, what would we do?" Craig said during a press conference on Thursday. "Arrest them."
Craig, along with a growing number of protesters and public officials including Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, says Chauvin should be charged with murder based on the video footage of his death.
In the graphic video, Floyd is handcuffed and lying face-down on the ground while Chauvin kneels on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Floyd can be heard repeatedly pleading "I can't breathe," and "don't kill me."
Minnesota prosecutors, however, have claimed that the footage does not necessarily support criminal charges of Chauvin or the other officers.
Floyd was a 46-year-old resident of Minneapolis who worked as a restaurant security guard.
He was a "gentle giant" and beloved by his customers, according to the Star Tribune.
In the wake of his death, protests have raged through Minneapolis, prompting President Trump to tweet that looters would face "shooting" by the National Guard.
"One of the messages I'm trying to get out is, 'look, if you don't like what's going on, [with] police officers and how they provide service in your community, become part of the solution,'" Craig said.
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