Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison Elevates Charges On Minneapolis Police Officers in George Floyd Murder

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Updated 3:23 PM ET, Wed June 3, 2020

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The former Minneapolis Police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck was charged with second-degree murder and the three other officers on scene during his killing are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, according to court  documents. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s official announcement of the charges is expected to come Wednesday afternoon, more than a week after Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide protests that call for the end to police violence against black citizens. The three other officers on scene, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin, who had his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, had previously been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Lane and Keung, who helped restrain Floyd, and Thao, who stood near the others, were not initially charged. Two autopsies on Floyd determined that he died by homicide. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo fired the four officers and said they were “complicit” in Floyd’s death. Floyd’s family and protesters nationwide have called for them to be arrested and convicted for the killing.

George Floyd died while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

According to the video and the criminal complaint, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe, as witnesses protested that he was dying, and even as Lane twice asked to turn him onto his side. Still, Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for almost three minutes after Floyd became unresponsive, the complaint states. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, said on Twitter that the family was gratified with the new charges. “FAMILY REACTION: This is a bittersweet moment. We are deeply gratified that (Ellison) took decisive action, arresting & charging ALL the officers involved in #GeorgeFloyd’s death & upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder,” he said. Under Minnesota law, third-degree murder is defined as causing the death of a person “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind,” without regard for life but without intent to kill. Second-degree murder, a more serious charge, is defined as when a person causes the death of another “without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense,” according to an amended criminal complaint.

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