Fresh charges have been brought in the George Floyd case, as Minnesota’s attorney general announced that all four police officers involved in the death of the unarmed African-American man last week will face criminal prosecution.
Derek Chauvin, the police officer who pressed his knee on the neck of Mr Floyd for several minutes even after the detainee had stopped breathing, now faces the elevated charge of second-degree murder, having initially been charged with the lesser crime of third-degree murder.
The other three police officers who took part in the arrest of Mr Floyd which culminated in his death, have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Earlier, the attorney for the Floyd family, Ben Crump, called on all four officers involved in the death of Mr Floyd to be charged, as he visited the site where he died with members of the family.
“We cannot have two justice systems in America - one for Black Americans and one for White Americans … we must have equal justice for the United States of America,” he said.
The death of Mr Floyd, a 46 year-old man who died while being physically restrained by police during an arrest last week, has caused shockwaves across America and the world, prompting widespread protests at what is perceived to be institutional racism in the criminal justice system in the United States.
An independent autopsy commissioned by Mr Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxia and a loss of blood flow to the brain - contradicting an initial preliminary report which found that the autopsy “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation”, and pointed to Mr Floyd’s pre-existing heart conditions.
Meanwhile in Washington, splits emerged at the very top of the White House over Mr Trump’s threat to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act and send the US military to states to help quell the protests that have erupted across the nation in recent days.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was among the officials who accompanied Mr Trump to St John’s Church across from the White House on Monday night after protestors were forcibly removed, said he did not support invoking the act.
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” he said at a news conference. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
Asked if Mr Trump still had confidence in the Pentagon chief, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday afternoon: “As of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper and should the president lose faith we will all learn about that in the future.”
Ms McEnany also defended Mr Trump’s right to invoke the act. “It is definitely a tool within his poor,” he said. “If needed he will use it.”
Mr Trump has faced widespread criticism - including from the mayor of Washington DC - for sanctioning the removal of peaceful protestors from a park outside the White House before a city curfew had gone into effect.