The three other Minneapolis police officers at the scene of George Floyd’s death will face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, the Minnesota attorney general announced Wednesday.
State Atty. Gen. Keith Ellison also elevated charges against former Officer Derek Chauvin, who was recorded on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he begged for air, to second-degree murder.
Arrest warrants were issued for the three other officers. Aiding and abetting second-degree murder is a felony under Minnesota state law.
Ellison said during a news conference Wednesday that he does not believe “one successful prosecution can rectify” the pain felt by the community.
“He should be here,” Ellison said of Floyd. “But he’s not.”
Floyd’s son Quincy Mason Floyd on Wednesday visited the site where his father died, kneeling among the flowers and posters. As Floyd’s family began arriving in the city for his memorial on Thursday, they called for action against the other officers to be taken before the event.
“We want justice,” said Floyd’s son, 27, who lives in Texas, standing before a large painted angel now marking the spot. “No man or woman should be without their fathers.”
The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, standing next to Quincy, said they expected the officers to be “charged as accomplices for the killing.” The Minneapolis police chief said they were “complicit,” and that audio and video from body cameras showed “they are also accomplices by their failure to act, when they knew he didn’t have a pulse,” according to Crump.
“We expected all of the police officers to be arrested before we have the memorial here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, tomorrow,” he said. “Because we cannot have two justice systems in America: one for black America, and one for white America.”
All four officers, including Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, were fired shortly after Floyd’s death. Chauvin was initially charged last week with third-degree murder and manslaughter before Gov. Tim Walz asked Ellison to take over the prosecution. Chauvin is being held at a state prison.
“This is another important step for justice,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Walz announced that the state’s Department of Human Rights will investigate the Minneapolis Police Department and filed a “civil rights charge related to the death of George Floyd.“
The Police Department that same day released personnel records for Chauvin. The former officer, who had worked with the department since October 2001, had been disciplined for only one incident during his tenure, despite being the subject of internal affairs investigations by the department at least 17 times.
In that August 2017 incident in Longfellow, a neighborhood just south of downtown Minneapolis, Chauvin was accused of pulling a woman out of her car after stopping her for going 10 mph over the speed limit. The woman filed the complaint the next day.
According to internal records, Thao has been investigated at least six times by the department. None of those investigations resulted in discipline, records show. One case is pending.
The Minneapolis Police Department declined to confirm or comment on the additional charges against the fired officers.
Before being asked to lead the prosecution, Ellison, a former U.S. congressman for Minnesota, said of Floyd’s death: “George Floyd mattered.”
“The available video appears to show George Floyd vocally pleading for his life,” Ellison said. “He appears to be informing officers that he couldn’t breathe while the officer’s knee was on his neck. He appeared to present no danger. Video shows onlookers who were disturbed pleading for the officer to give medical attention. Those calls appear to have gone unheeded as Mr. Floyd became unresponsive.
“Whenever someone dies at the hand of law enforcement or state power, we owe it to everyone affected to investigate thoroughly.”
On Wednesday at the memorial marking the spot where Floyd died, Suzie Hewitt, who grew up in the Twin Cities, kneeled as she and others in the crowd put their arms around her mother, who sobbed on the curb.
“All of those complaints against the officer,” Hewitt said, referring to Chauvin, “those were us, for years and years, and nothing got done.”
“All of this frustration, sadness, anger — this is what black trauma looks like,” she said. “I love Minnesota — it is my home ... but now people are coming together to address this issue; it is no longer just theirs.”