All four of the Minneapolis police officers who either directly killed George Floyd, or stood idly by watching, have been or will soon be charged with Floyd's death, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) said Wednesday. The senator's announcement preempted official word from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has been tasked with leading the prosecution in this case.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis Police Department officer who was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder the previous week. According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Ellison has elevated Chauvin's charge to second-degree murder. Officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane have also been charged as of Wednesday with aiding and abetting. All four officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department shortly after Floyd's death.
Floyd's family released a statement through their attorney shortly after Klobuchar announced the new charges, calling this a "bittersweet moment" and claiming that Ellison had left open the possibility of elevating the charges against Chauvin once more to first-degree murder, should further investigation warrant the change.
"We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support by Americans in cities across the country, and we urge them to raise their voices for change in peaceful ways," the family wrote. "Our message to them is: Find constructive and positive ways to keep the focus and pressure on. Don't let up on your demand for change."
The new charges come amidst a wave of renewed criticism of the Minneapolis Police Department, which has long been one of the most disproportionally racially biased law enforcement agencies in the country. Less than 24 hours earlier, the Minneapolis Public School system voted to end a security contract with the city's police department, with the city's park board considering doing the same. Similarly, the state's Department of Human Rights announced that it planned to investigate the past decade of the department's actions for evidence of civil rights violations.