Prosecutors have filed a tougher charge against the police officer at the centre of the George Floyd case and charged three other officers.
The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video pressing his knee to Mr Floyd’s neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder.
The three other officers at the scene – Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
All four were fired last week.
The new charges were sought by Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison, who called the protests unleashed by the death “dramatic and necessary” and said Mr Floyd “should be here and he is not”.
“His life had value, and we will seek justice,” said Mr Ellison, who cautioned that winning convictions would be hard and said that public pressure had no bearing on his decisions.
Hundreds of protesters were in New York City’s Washington Square Park when the charges were announced.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Mr Floyd’s family, called it “a bittersweet moment” and “a significant step forward on the road to justice”.
Mr Crump said Mr Ellison had told the family he would continue his investigation into Mr Floyd’s death and upgrade the charge to first-degree murder if warranted.
On Wednesday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office released the full autopsy report on Mr Floyd, which noted he had previously tested positive for Covid-19, but was apparently asymptomatic.
The report was released with the family’s permission after summary findings on Monday that said had a heart attack while being restrained by officers.
Some of the rockiness of the days since African-American Mr Floyd’s death on May 25 dissipated on Tuesday night, with demonstrations continuing around the country, but without major reports of violence.
Curfews and efforts by protesters to contain earlier flare-ups of lawlessness were credited with preventing more widespread damage to businesses in New York and other cities overnight.
“Last night we took a step forward in moving out of this difficult period we’ve had the last few days and moving to a better time,” New York mayor Bill de Blasio said.
New York police said they arrested about 280 people on protest-related charges on Tuesday night, compared with 700 a day earlier.
Nationwide, the number arrested in connection to the unrest rose to more than 9,000.
At least 12 deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.
Some tense incidents continued Tuesday night, but were far less prevalent than in preceding days.
Police and National Guard troops used tear gas, flash-bang grenades, nonlethal rounds and other means of dispersing crowds near a police precinct in Seattle, near Centennial Park in Atlanta and at demonstrations in Tampa and St Petersburg, Florida.