(TMU) – Barely a week after George Floyd died during a brutal Minneapolis Police Department arrest, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will announce that fired officer Derek Chauvin will have his charges for the arrest increased to 2nd-degree murder while the other three cops involved with the arrest will also be arrested and face charges for the deadly incident, according to Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
In video footage that has been seen tens of millions of times over the past week, three of the fired officers can be seen putting putting their weight on top of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, in the altercation that led to his May 25th death.
The former officers include Chauvin – who held his knee down on Floyd’s neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total, and two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd lost consciousness, according to a criminal complaint – as well as officers J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. Former officer Tou Thao can also be seen standing near the others as the gruesome events transpired.
Chauvin was arrested and originally charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter following an uproar resulting from the release of videotaped footage of the apparent killing. The three other officers involved in the arrest were fired along with Chauvin but were not charged.
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
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) June 3, 2020
Third-degree murder is a category of murder that only exists in three states: Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. According to Minnesota statutes, a person can be charged with third-degree murder “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind.”
The revised second-degree murder charge and manslaughter charge could lead to two different outcomes for Chauvin if he is successfully convicted, CBS reports. If he is found guilty of intentional second-degree murder, he would face up to 25 and a half years in prison, while an unintentional second-degree murder conviction would call for 12 and a half years in prison.
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
On Monday, an independent autopsy ordered by Floyd’s bereaved family found that the homicide was “caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain,” according to initial findings from the investigation that were released on Monday.
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents the family of George Floyd, told reporters that Floyd was essentially “dead on the scene” after former police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee down on Floyd’s neck while other officers kneeled on his back. He added:
“Essentially, George died because he needed a breath. He needed a breath of air.”
BREAKING: Independent autopsy ordered by George Floyd's family found he was killed by "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to early findings.https://t.co/dslAVpTIxq pic.twitter.com/2YQ6wD1cGe
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 1, 2020
According to the independent examiners, the weight on Floyd’s back along with the handcuffs and his positioning contributed to his death because they impaired the ability of his diaphragm to function.
However, the Minneapolis Police Department claimed following Floyd’s death that he perished shortly after the altercation after he was transported to a local hospital on May 25.
Attorney General Ellison took the reins of the case last week and will proceed alongside Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman following a concession to the community by Gov. Tim Walz in response to concerns that the officers would simply be exonerated for Floyd’s death.
Some activists have said the move fails to go far enough, however. Michelle Gross, the head of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said on Monday that Gov. Walz must appoint a “special prosecutor not affiliated with the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office or the Attorney General’s Office because we have no faith in these agencies to vigorously prosecute police officers given their past failures.”
Ellison, who has been hailed as a highly-qualified and probing attorney general with extensive experience as a defense attorney prior to his political career, warned on Monday that “injustice has been a hallmark of our criminal justice system.”
“We are working expeditiously, as fast as we can, but we have a duty to be fair and we’re going to be fair,” the attorney general told CBSN. “But let me tell you, my eyes work pretty well, I saw what everybody saw, and I am committed to justice in this case.”
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