Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has officially filed new charges against the police officers involved in the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis last week.
Ellison, who took over the investigation into Floyd’s death as a special prosecutor, has charged Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
The fourth officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last week, but today Ellison upgraded those charges to second-degree murder. The family had been fighting for a first-degree murder charge.
CNN reported that Chauvin had 18 complaints filed against him while working for the Minneapolis Police Department.
All four officers were quickly fired after Floyd’s May 25 death.
Floyd was detained last Monday on suspicion of forgery. He had just purchased cigarettes from a corner store but employees of that store said Floyd passed a fake $20 bill and called police. Video shows Floyd being cuffed and calmly talking to officers Lane and Keung outside his car.
Later, he was taken to their cruiser, which is when officers Thao and Chauvin showed up and the incident escalated. The still-cuffed Floyd was put into, then dragged out of, a police cruiser and then subdued.
Chauvin kneeled directly on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, with other officers seen on video spending at least some portion of that time kneeling on his back and legs as well. Chauvin can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd screams, “I can’t breathe” and he, along with onlookers, ask police to help him. Authorities say Chauvin remained on Floyd’s necked even as Floyd lost consciousness, and also for a full minute after paramedics arrived.
Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The official autopsy said the restraint, combined with underlying health conditions and potential intoxication contributed to his death, but an independent autopsy ordered by Floyd’s family showed he died directly of asphyxiation as a result of pressure on his neck and back.
Waves of protests have since gripped Minneapolis and cities around the United States. Some protests have resulted in violence and looting, including some in our area.
President Donald Trump declared he would take drastic steps to prevent violent protests, including using the United States military. Massachusetts Attorney Maura Healey quickly tweeted that the president did not have the authority to deploy the military in Massachusetts to stop peaceful protests.
“This is a tipping point. This moment is a tipping point to change America and see if America truly believes in the words of Thomas Jefferson,” Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump said during a visit to the scene of Floyd’s death on Wednesday. “That we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. That among them are the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In America, that means Black people too.”
A memorial for Floyd is being held on Thursday.
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