Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday that state Attorney General Keith Ellison has been appointed to lead the prosecution of any charges arising from the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Fired officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death on May 25, during which the officer was videoed kneeling on Chauvin's neck for several minutes as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe.
Floyd's death has sparked anti-racism and police brutality protests across the U.S. as protesters demand charges for the other three officers involved and stronger charges for Chauvin. With such a spotlight on the case being brought against Chauvin, Walz announced Ellison's appointment as lead prosecutor shortly after 10 members representing Minneapolis in the state House asked him in a letter to transfer the case to Ellison, as per NBC News.
It with a large degree of humility and a great seriousness, I accept for my office the responsibility for leadership on this critical case involving the killing of George Floyd.
We are going to bring to bear all the resources necessary to achieve justice in this case. pic.twitter.com/XXafzFT0Kd— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) June 1, 2020
"Unfortunately, our constituents, especially constituents of color, have lost faith in the ability of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to fairly and impartially investigate and prosecute these cases," the letter said. During Sunday's announcement, Walz said he had spoken with Floyd's family, who also asked that Ellison take over the case, saying they were "very clear they wanted the system to work for them, they wanted to believe that there was trust."
"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, who soon announced of the case, "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," however. "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."