The movement against police brutality has achieved another hard fought but meaningful victory—all four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd now face charges, and officer Derek Chauvin’s charges have been increased to second-degree murder.
The announcement comes via tweet from Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar on Wednesday afternoon, more than a week after Floyd was killed.
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
Chauvin, who had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs, killed Floyd after pressing his knee into the back of the man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd had died of asphyxiation within four minutes of being held to the ground, repeatedly telling the officers “I can’t breathe,” and pleading with the officers to not kill him. Former officers J.A. Keung and Thomas Lane, who helped restrain Floyd and Tou Thao who stood nearby are now charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd’s tragic death was yet another in a string of recent police killings of unarmed black people in the US, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. “I can’t breathe” elicitted painful memories of Eric Garner’s last words, who was also choked to death in 2014 as a result of excessive force by white police officers.
“It’s hard enough we’re coming up on the anniversary of my son’s death, and now to hear about this young man, it’s like déjà vu,” said Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother. “It’s just like the murder of my son all over again. He was basically the same age as Eric.”
Thousands of other black people have been killed by police in recent years. Floyd’s death had re-ignited civil unrest across the nation and protests calling for police reform.
Attorney General Keith Ellison held a news conference shortly after Klobuchar made the announcement over twitter. Ellison said the elevated murder charge for Chauvin and new charges for the three other former officers were not influenced by the public response and protests.
“George Floyd’s death is the symptom of a disease. We will not wake up one day and have the disease of systemic racism cured for us. This is on each of us to solve together, and we have hard work ahead,” said Gov. Tim Walz after Ellison announced the new charges. “We owe that much to George Floyd, and we owe that much to each other.”
The Floyd family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said these new charges represented “a bittersweet moment,” and that the family is gratified by this action.
FAMILY’S REACTION: This is a bittersweet moment. We are deeply gratified that @AGEllison took decisive action, arresting & charging ALL the officers involved in #GeorgeFloyd's death & upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder. #JusticeForGeorge pic.twitter.com/jTfXFHpsYl
— Benjamin Crump, Esq. (@AttorneyCrump) June 3, 2020
A public viewing and private memorial service will be held in North Carolina on Saturday said Hubert Peterkin, the sheriff of Hoke County, via Facebook.
“The memorial is about the life that Mr. George Floyd lived, and this is a time to embrace the family with expressions of love and kindness,” Peterkin said.