Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison plans to announce charges against three Minneapolis police officers who were at the scene of George Floyd's death, reports the Star Tribune Wednesday, as well as elevate charges for former officer Derek Chauvin. The news comes amid more than a week's worth of protests in Minnesota and nationwide, with demonstrators asking for harsher consequences for the four officers involved.
During an address expected this afternoon, Chauvin will reportedly be charged with second-degree murder after being videotaped kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he begged for air. Chauvin was originally facing third-degree murder and manslaughter charges after his arrest Friday. The other three officers — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — will also be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, according to the paper's sources.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin to 2nd degree in George Floyd’s murder and also charging other 3 officers. This is another important step for justice.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 3, 2020
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar confirmed the news on Twitter after the Star Tribune's report, which came one day after Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump said of the other officers during Tuesday's TODAY show, "We heard that they expect to charge those officers."
Thao was recorded watching as Chauvin pressed on Floyd’s neck with his knee, while Kueng was one of the first officers on the scene who helped pin Floyd to the ground. Lane has been accused of pointing a gun at Floyd before he was handcuffed, and later asked if officers should roll Floyd on his side as he was restrained.
This major announcement comes just days after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Ellison would be handling all charges resulting from Floyd's death on May 25. "This decision is one that I feel takes us in that direction and the step to start getting the justice for George Floyd," Walz said of appointing Ellison. The state Attorney General said soon after the news was announced, "We are pursuing justice. We are pursuing truth. We're doing it vigorously, and we are pursuing accountability."
Ellison did say he wanted to "note a dose of reality," for people waiting eagerly for a change in the way the case was being handled. "Prosecuting police officers for misconduct, including homicide and murder, is very difficult, and if you look at the cases that have been in front of the public in the last many years, it's easy to see that is true," he said. "Every single link in the prosecutorial chain will come under attack as we present this case to a jury or a fact finder."