Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin from third-degree to second-degree murder in the aftermath of George Floyd‘s tragic death.
In addition, the three other officers involved in the incident — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng — are now charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, and with aiding and abetting second-degree murder manslaughter with culpable negligence, according to new reports.
All four officers involved were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department last week, with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo stating that they were all “complicit” in George’s death. Lane and Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Thao, who stood near the others, were not initially arrested.
Thao was recorded watching as Chauvin continued to hold his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, despite him saying “I can’t breathe.” Meanwhile, Kueng helped pin Floyd down as he was one of the first officers on site. In earlier charges, it was also detailed how Lane pointed a gun at Floyd prior to handcuffing him and asked if officers should roll Floyd to his side while he was being restrained.
Chauvin — who was on the force for 18 years before his firing and had the same number of complaints filed against him — was initially charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Under Minnesota law, third-degree murder is defined as causing the death of an individual without regard for life and without intent to kill “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind.”
Chauvin’s new charge is more serious and defined as a person causing the death of another with intent to effect the death of that person, without premeditation. The amended complaint against him stated:
“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous. … Officer Chauvin’s restraint of Mr. Floyd in this manner for a prolonged period was a substantial factor in Mr. Floyd losing consciousness, constituting substantial bodily harm, and Mr. Floyd’s death as well.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family expressed in a statement that they felt “bittersweet” about the new charges:
“This is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd. 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.
This is a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest. That is a source of peace for George’s family in this painful time.”
AG Keith Ellison will have a public statement in a press conference on Wednesday about the new charges, which we will continue to keep you updated on.
[Image via Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office]