World

George Floyd’s family praises Aust support

By AAP Newswire

George Floyd's family lawyer has paid tribute to supporters in Australia and the rest of the world after prosecutors upgraded the murder charge against fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Three other police officers involved in last week's fatal arrest in Minneapolis were also charged on Wednesday.

Black Lives Matter and other rallies have been held in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and across the US after video emerged of Mr Floyd struggling to breathe and slowly dying during last week's arrest.

"We are here proud that this family's call for justice was heard by so many people not just in Minnesota, but in New York, in Houston, Texas, in Australia," the Floyd's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, told reporters.

"Everywhere people have heard this call for justice for George."

Mr Floyd died on May 25 when police were called by a Minneapolis shopkeeper suspecting a counterfeit $US20 note was used to buy items.

Video showed Mr Floyd handcuffed, face down on a street and Chauvin using a knee to pin Mr Floyd by the neck for almost nine minutes.

Chauvin was originally charged with third-degree murder, but after worldwide protests it was elevated to second-degree murder on Wednesday.

The maximum sentence is 40 years in prison.

The previous third-degree count carried a maximum 25-year term.

The three other officers involved in the arrest, Thomas Lane, J Kueng and Tou Thao, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

All four officers were fired last week.

Kueng is being represented by Thomas Plunkett, the lawyer who defended former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor.

Mr Plunkett said Kueng turned himself in on Wednesday afternoon and was in custody.

Noor shot dead Australian life coach Justine Ruszczyk in 2017 after she called 911 to report a woman screaming near her Minneapolis home.

Noor was found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and is serving a 12.5-year prison sentence.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken over the prosecution of Chauvin, Lane, Kueng and Thao from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

Freeman, criticised for taking too long to charge the four officers, successfully headed the prosecution of Noor.

Mr Ellison paid tribute to Mr Freeman.

"Winning a conviction will be hard," Mr Ellison told reporters.

"In fact, County Attorney Freeman is the only prosecutor in the state of Minnesota who has successfully convicted a police officer for murder.

"He can tell you it is hard."