St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is expected to announce charges on Wednesday against the other three former police officers involved in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in custody, and to elevate charges against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced the upgraded charges on Wednesday.
“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,” Klobuchar tweeted.
Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest on May 25.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Ellison will announce that the murder charge against the officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes during the arrest has been increased to second-degree murder.
Multiple law enforcement sources told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the other three officers involved in the arrest will be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao left Minnesota while he waited for the inevitable charges to be announced, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
His criminal defense attorney, Robert Paule, confirmed that Thao, who was the officer standing and handling crowd control while the other three officers arrested Floyd in the now-infamous viral video, was “safely elsewhere.”
Relatives said that former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane, who pointed a gun at Floyd before he was handcuffed and then helped Chauvin hold him down, has left Minneapolis too, but he didn’t tell anyone where he was going, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
And former Minneapolis Police Officer J. Alexander Kueng is reportedly staying in the Minneapolis area. Kueng was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene and helped pin Floyd to the pavement.
All of the officers were fired the day after Floyd died in custody, but until Ellison’s announcement, protesters remained outraged that only the officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck in the video was facing charges, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officers Chauvin, Kueng, and Lane holding Floyd on the ground while Officer Thao kept the crowd from advancing on the officers.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.
After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest.
Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension four days after the incident and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.
According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The charging documents state, “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
Floyd’s family released an independent autopsy report by veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden on June 1 that disputed that information and said the man died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner allegedly died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him. The medical examiner declared it was a homicide, but a grand jury refused to indict the officer on the theory that officers caused Garners death by arresting him.
But the final autopsy findings released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office hours later confirmed that Floyd had died from heart failure.
“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” Floyd’s autopsy said. “Manner of death: Homicide.”
“How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report continued. “Other significant conditions: Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”
The toxicology results showing fentanyl and methamphetamine directly contradicted assertions by the forensic pathologist that Floyd’s family’s attorneys hired to dispute the initial medical examiner’s report.
Protests erupted in the Twin Cities after Floyd’s death, leaving both Minneapolis and the state’s capital of St. Paul burned, looted, and destroyed.
Rioters overran and torched the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct where the officers accused of Floyd’s homicide were assigned.
Protests spread across the United States, and became very violent in major cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Portland, Oakland, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.
Floyd’s family reacted to the news of the new charges ahead of the formal announcement by the attorney general, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
“This is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd,” the family said in a statement released by their attorney, Benjamin Crump. “We are deeply gratified that Attorney General Keith Ellison took decisive action in this case, arresting and charging all the officers involved in George Floyd’s death and upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder.”