Three former Minneapolis police officers will be criminally charged Wednesday in connection with the death of George Floyd, Sen. Amy Klobuchar wrote in a post on Twitter.
In addition, Derek Chauvin, a former officer who had already been charged with third-degree murder in the case, will now be charged with second-degree murder, the Minnesota Democrat wrote.
Klobuchar did not detail the charges that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison plans to file against the three other ex-cops: Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. All four officers were fired last week after the arrest.
But a local newspaper, the Star Tribune, earlier said the trio will be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, citing sources.
The ex-cops had assisted Chauvin in arresting Floyd on Memorial Day on the suspicion that Floyd passed a counterfeit bill.
All officers who were at the scene when Floyd died while Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes — in broad daylight on a city street while the victim said “I can’t breathe” multiple times– have now been charged. Chauvin was charged last Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and voices have been raised since then with calls for the rest of the officers involved to face charges just as serious.
An independent autopsy at the request of family attorneys Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci found Floyd died of asphyxiation, not only from pressure applied to his neck in the video, but also from officers on his back. Knees on his back compressed his chest, forcing him to be unable to draw breath as another officer knelt on his neck, according to autopsy results released by the attorneys.
A forensic pathologist from the University of Michigan said the manner of death was homicide.
With that information, the family wanted first-degree murder charges against Chauvin, and charges to the fullest possible extent against every other officer on the scene. “They want equal justice for African Americans because black lives matter and George Floyd’s life matters,” Crump said when the autopsy was released.
A report released Monday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.” The manner of death was also ruled homicide.
The first autopsy released by officials, meanwhile, found that Floyd’s overall health contributed to his death. “No physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” noting that “Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary heart disease … The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
On Monday, after taking over the case, he cautioned against a rush to judgement and said prosecutors will be careful and methodical in bringing charges.
“We are moving as expeditiously, quickly and effectively as we can,” he said. “But I need to protect this prosecution. I am not going to create a situation where somebody can say this was a rush to judgement.”
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced Tuesday it will begin an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department after filing a civil rights charge related to Floyd’s death.
They’re also investigating “policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years” that will determine if the MPD has engaged in systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped.
Minnesota has one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country, which make it illegal for a police department to discriminate against someone because of their race. This investigation of the entire police department is meant to allow the Department of Human Rights “to take swift action in response to any determination of civil rights violations.”
“Silence is complicity. Minnesotans can expect our administration to use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state,” said Governor Tim Walz about the human rights investigation. “As we move forward, we ask the community to watch what we do, not what we say. It is going to take action at all levels from the neighborhood on up, to get the change we need to see. This effort is only one of many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with those in the community who have been unseen and unheard for far too long.”
The Department of Human Rights will seek agreement from city leadership and the MPD to immediately implement interim measures in advance of long-term measures to address systemic discriminatory practices.
They’re also asking for public input. Minnesotans with information that can further the investigation into the MPD should contact the Department of Human Rights atmn.gov/mdhr or 651-539-1100.