Minnesota state prosecutors have upgraded the charges against a Minneapolis police officer to 2nd-degree murder accused of pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck. Accessory to 2nd-degree murder charges have also been filed against the other three officers at the scene. (Local10.com)
A bystander video showing Floyd’s death on May 25 has sparked many violent protests around the US and the world against police brutality and discrimination. The Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired May 26 and charged with 3rd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter. The other police officers were fired but not charged at the time.
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison Upgraded Charges
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the state’s attorney general, Keith Ellison, would upgrade the charges against Chauvin and also charging the three other police officers – Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao – with aiding and abetting 2nd-degree murder. (APnews.com)
The newspaper also stated that it had consulted with several law enforcement sources familiar with the case. Earl Gray, the attorney representing Lane, told the media that the report is accurate.
Floyd’s Family Demanded Criminal Charges for All 4 Officers
Floyd’s family and many protesters had called for criminal charges to be filed against all four police officers, as well as upgraded charges against Chauvin. The bystander video showed that the ex-police officer held his knee against Floyd’s neck, despite protests that he could not breathe, and held the position even after Lloyd lost consciousness.
Floyd, an African-American, was handcuffed when he died with his face pressed into the pavement.
Family attorney Ben Crump stated earlier today that Floyd had died because he was ‘starving for air, and needed a breath.’ He also said that the family expected all of the officers to be charged before the memorial for George Floyd on June 4.
Crump also said that the other police officers did not protect a man who was asking for help and said he could not breathe. He said that when Floyd said he could not breathe, Lane asked Chauvin if they should put him on his side. But Chavuin said he was going to keep him flat on his stomach, which Crump said showed the officer’s intent. (Startribune.com)
Chauvin Served as Military Policeman in US Army
Police personnel records released by the city of Minneapolis showed that Chauvin was a military policeman in the Army in the late 1990s. Since he was hired in Minneapolis in 2001, he was awarded two medals of valor.
One was for being part of a group of police officers who shot a stabbing suspect after the man pointed a gun at them in 2006. Another was for catching a suspect in a domestic violence case in 2008. In the latter case, Chauvin broke in a bathroom door and shot the man.
Reprimanded in 2008 for Excessive Force in Traffic Stop
The ex-police officer was reprimanded in 2008 for using unnecessary force in 2007. He frisked a woman after a traffic stop and put her in his police car after he stopped her for driving 10 MPH over the speed limit. He did not turn on his dashboard camera and a report stated that he could have questioned the woman while standing outside her vehicle.
Lane, 37, and Kueng joined the Minneapolis police department in February 2019, and neither have complaints on their files.
Lane worked as a correctional officer in a Minnesota juvenile jail and as a probation officer at a residential treatment facility for minors.
Kueng graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2018 and worked as a part-time security officer on campus. He also worked as a security officer at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis while at the university.
Thao, a native speaker of Hmong, joined the police department as a community service officer in 2008 and was promoted to a full-time police officer in 2009. He was laid off that year due to state budget cuts but was rehired four years later.
Governor Orders Civil Rights Investigation
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and the state human rights department launched a civil rights investigation against the Minneapolis Police Department because of its alleged history of racial discrimination.
The county medical examiner’s official autopsy report states that Floyd’s death was due to cardiac arrest as Chauvin restrained him and used excessive pressure on his neck. The medical examiner also reported that Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamines in his system, but neither were related to his death.
The Floyd family’s attorney asked for a separate autopsy, which concluded that he died from asphyxiation because of neck and back compression caused by Chauvin’s knee to
Floyd’s neck. Those actions, the second autopsy found, made it impossible for the man to breathe.
At Least 12 Deaths Reported In US Protests
The Associated Press reports that at least 12 people have died in protests around the country since May 25, but less violence occurred last night as curfews were enacted by mayors in many states.
New York police said that almost 300 people were arrested during protests and riots Tuesday night, compared to 700 the day before. Around the US, at least 9,000 people have been arrested related to civil unrest.
Some tense episodes were reported Tuesday night in some cities, but were less prevalent than earlier days. Police and state National Guard troops used flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and nonlethal rounds to scatter crowds in Seattle, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg, Florida.
More than 20,000 National Guard troops were called up in 30 states to quell the violence.
In Philadelphia, a statue of ex-Mayor Frank Rizzo was taken down by the city today after it was reportedly defaced by vandals. Rizzo managed a police department that was often accused of racism in the 1970s.
Many protesters said that the protests were long overdue, given the long list of killings by local police departments of black men all over the US.
President Trump has pushed governors to take a harder line against violent protesters, saying that ‘lowlifes and losers’ had taken over New York jCity streets.