The former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd had the charges facing him upgraded to second-degree murder Wednesday, said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who was brought onto the case to secure justice.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who was recorded pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while he lay on the pavement for nearly nine minutes, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The elevated murder charge means that he now faces up to 40 years in prison, as opposed to 25 years for the third-degree murder charge.
“This is another important step for justice,” tweeted United States Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Wednesday.
The other three officers at the scene of the May 25 incident — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — have also been hit with felony charges that include aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
“This is a bittersweet moment,” Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement released on Twitter. “We are deeply gratified that [Ellison] took decisive action, arresting and charging all of the officers involved in George Floyd’s death and upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder.”
The viral video of the Memorial Day arrest, which was recorded by an onlooker, showed Chauvin pinning down Floyd while Lane and Keung helped restrain him and Thao stood nearby.
Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe and called for his mother.
Two autopsies ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, and all four officers involved were fired.