Former officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck now charged with 2nd-degree murder, three former officers charged

Derek Chauvin has an additional 40-year murder charge and three other former officers were charged with aiding and abetting 2nd-degree murder

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison just announced that four police officers have been charged in the death of George Floyd. Until now, only Derek Chauvin was charged.

Attorney General Ellison, the lead prosecutor on the case as of two days ago, has filed a charge of second-degree murder against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in addition to the previous charge of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the prosecution case for the May 25 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The complaints against the four officers describe what the public has seen in videos, alleging that, “on the evening of May 25, the officers arrested Mr. Floyd at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. In detaining Mr. Floyd, Derek Chauvin used an unauthorized restraint technique in which he pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck to restrict Mr. Floyd’s movement while Mr. Floyd was handcuffed and laying on the pavement. Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng held Mr. Floyd by the legs and hips to further restrict movement. Tou Thao stood guard to prevent members of the public, who gathered nearby to witness the police action, from intervening to aid Mr. Floyd. While the officers restrained him nearly motionless on the ground, Mr. Floyd repeatedly told the officer he could not breathe and also said that he was about to die.”

They alleged that the former officers used “unauthorized and unnecessary force to intentionally inflict bodily harm” on Floyd. The other officers: Thao, Lane, and Kueng, “aided Chauvin’s assault by allowing him to continue to inflict bodily harm on Mr. Floyd for several minutes, well after any need by the officers to use physical force had dissipated.” 

Kueng, Lane, and Thao were arrested today and Chauvin has been in custody since May 28. The case is still under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. 

The officers will be prosecuted by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, with Ellison as the lead prosecutor. ChauvinKuengLane, and Thao could serve up to 40 years in prison for the first felony charges of second-degree murder alone, in Chauvin’s case, and for aiding and abetting for the others.

In a press conference today, Ellison said, “I strongly believe that these developments are in the interests of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community, and our state.”

He thanked Floyd’s family for their patience and suggested that the road to justice is a long, rough one. “History shows that trying and winning a case like this one is hard,” he said, requesting that anyone with evidence come forward.

“To the Floyd family, to our beloved community, and everyone that is watching, I say: George Floyd mattered. He was loved. His life was important. His life had value. We will seek justice for him and for you and we will find it.

The very fact that we have filed these charges means that we believe in them. But what I do not believe is that one successful prosecution can rectify the hurt and loss that so many people feel. The solution to that pain will be in the slow and difficult work of constructing justice and fairness in our society.  

That work is the work of all of us. We don’t need to wait for the resolution of the investigation and prosecution of the George Floyd case. We need citizens, neighbours, leaders in government and faith communities, civil- and human-rights activists to begin rewriting the rules for a just society. We need new policy and legislation and ways of thinking at municipal, state, and federal levels. The world of arts and entertainment can use their cultural influence to help inspire the change we need. There is a role for all who dream of a justice we haven’t had yet.  

In the final analysis, a protest can shake the tree and make the fruit fall down. But after that fruit is in reach, collecting it and making the jam must follow. The demonstration is dramatic and necessary. But building just institutions is slower and more of a grind, and just as important. We need your energy there too. We need it now.”

This StarTribune article has a video and arresting photos of the three former Minneapolis police officers charged Wednesday.

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