The brutal murder of George Floyd in 2020 sparked mass demonstrations for justice and accountability that resonated far beyond the US.
The accountability demanded by demonstrators has led to reform in the state of Minnesota where Floyd was killed and varying levels of accountability for the four Minneapolis Police Department officers involved.
The following is a brief timeline of events in the two years that followed Floyd's death.
May 25, 2020: George Floyd murdered during fatal arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd was pinned to the ground face-down in handcuffs by Officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine-and-a-half minutes. Bystander video captured Floyd pleading for his life, telling Chauvin “I can’t breathe,” and desperately crying for his mother. Floyd becomes unresponsive and is later pronounced dead at a hospital. Ex-officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng helped pin Floyd to the ground while Tou Thao prevented bystanders from intervening.
May 25, 2020: Minneapolis police issue statement saying an unnamed man died following a “medical incident.”
May 26: Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old bystander, publishes video on social media recording Floyd’s final moments as protests demand accountability for the murder and greater racial justice in policing, begin in Minnesota.
May 26: All four officers involved in Floyd’s death are fired by the Minneapolis Police Department.
May 27: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey calls for Chauvin to face criminal charges as some protests turn violent while demonstrations spread to other cities across the US.
May 28: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activates National Guard “to help protect Minnesotans’ safety and maintain peace in the wake of George Floyd’s death." Protesters burn Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct.
May 28: Protests become international with demonstrations in Africa. They will eventually reach all seven continents.
May 29: Chauvin is arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Former US President Donald Trump rails against protesters, calling them “THUGS,” and warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The phrase has a racially-charged history dating to the Civil Rights Movement. Protests turn violent in more cities.
May 31: Walz announces state Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Black former progressive congressman and Muslim, will lead the prosecution of Chauvin and any other Minnesota prosecutions related to Floyd’s murder.
June 1: Hennepin County Medical Examiner releases autopsy that determines Floyd’s death was a homicide. Office says Floyd’s heart and lungs stopped working while he was “being restrained” by police.
June 1: US Park Police and National Guard troops forcibly clear peaceful demonstrators from park near White House with pepper spray and tear gas. Trump poses shortly thereafter, holding Bible in front of nearby church and declares himself the “law and order” president.
June 2: Minnesota Department of Human Rights announces civil rights probe into Minneapolis Police Department, the state’s largest police department.
June 3: Ellison increases charge against Chauvin to second-degree murder, also charges Lane, Kueng and Thao with aiding and abetting third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Arrest warrants issued for Lane, Kueng and Thao.
June 4: Memorial held for Floyd in Minneapolis as protests enter their tenth night with tens of thousands of demonstrators filling streets across the country.
June 5: Minneapolis City Council votes for sweeping police reform and bans chokeholds in wake of Floyd’s murder.
June 6: Public memorial services held for Floyd in his home state of North Carolina.
June 8: Protests take place in front of the US Embassy in Ankara.
June 9: Floyd laid to rest near Houston with thousands paying respects. Day named “George Floyd Day” in Harris County, the seat of Texas’s largest city.
June 16: Trump praises law enforcement, issues executive order encouraging police reform, creating database to track officers with excessive force complaints.
July 15: Floyd family announces civil rights lawsuit against Minneapolis and officers involved in Floyd's murder with compensation and damages to be determined by a jury.
Oct. 7: Chauvin released from jail after posting $1 million bond.
March 12, 2021: Floyd family agrees to $27 million settlement with city of Minneapolis, ending lawsuit.
March 29: Opening statements begin in Chauvin’s trial with prosecutor Jerry Blackwell showing jury footage of Floyd’s fatal arrest and saying former officer knelt on Floyd “until the very life was squeezed out of him.”
April 19: Closing arguments made as jury begins deliberations.
April 20: Jury finds Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. Ellison says verdict is “accountability, which is the first step to justice.”
May 7: Chauvin, Lane, Kueng and Thao indicted by federal grand jury on civil rights charges.
June 25: Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill sentences Chauvin to 22-and-a-half years in prison.
Nov. 2: Minneapolis voters reject plan to replace police department with new Department of Public Safety.
Jan. 24, 2022: Opening arguments begin in federal trial of three former officers accused of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Feb. 22: Kueng, Lane and Thao found guilty in federal court of violating Floyd’s civil rights while acting under government authority. Kueng and Thao also convicted of not intervening to stop Chauvin from using excessive force. Sentencing has yet to be held.
April 11: Hearing held for Kueng, Lane and Thao ahead of state trial slated to begin June 13./aa