The Hennepin County prosecutor had already arrested Derek Chauvin, the former police officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck, last week, charging him with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Ellison’s office is also upgrading the charges against Chauvin to include second-degree murder without intent, in addition to the existing charges. Chauvin’s bail, which was previously set at $500,000, is now $1 million.
At a press conference in St. Paul on Wednesday, Ellison
“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,” Ben Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family, said in a statement.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) tapped Ellison, a former progressive congressman and civil rights attorney, on Sunday to take over the case from Hennepin County prosecutor Mike Freeman. Walz said he made the decision to put Ellison in charge after consulting with Floyd’s family.
Floyd was killed on May 25 after the officers arrested him for allegedly attempting to make a purchase at a store with a fraudulent $20 bill. As seen in video of Floyd’s arrest, Chauvin used his knee to hold Floyd down by the neck even as Floyd’s pleads, “Please, man, I can’t breathe.”
Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd, who was apparently in handcuffs, even after he stopped speaking and moving. He remained there as onlookers shouted at other officers to attend to Floyd.
In another video, three other officers can be seen crowding around Floyd, who is on the floor, during the arrest.
According to the Minneapolis Police Department, Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a hospital.
Chauvin, Thao, Lane and Keung were fired from the police department, but protesters and community leaders demanded that the officers be arrested and charged with murder.
The Minneapolis Police Department initially claimed that Floyd was physically resisting arrest. However, surveillance footage obtained by CNN which captured a portion of the arrest does not support that claim.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a former Hennepin County prosecutor, hailed the decision on Twitter as “another important step for justice.”
The Fraternal Order of Police denounced Floyd’s arrest and killing in an official statement last week.
“I do not believe this incident should be allowed to define our profession or the Minneapolis Police Department, but there is no doubt that this incident has diminished the trust and respect our communities have for the men and women of law enforcement,” Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes said in a statement.
“Based on the by-stander’s video from this incident, we witnessed a man in distress pleading for help,” Yoes said. “The fact that he was a suspect in custody is immaterial—police officers should at all times render aid to those who need it. Police officers need to treat all of our citizens with respect and understanding and should be held to the very highest standards for their conduct.”
During an interview with CNN last week, Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, called for the protests to remain peaceful but he also said demonstrators were “torn and hurt because they’re tired of seeing Black men die. Constantly, over and over again.”
“These officers, they need to be arrested right now. They need to be arrested and held accountable about everything because these people want justice right now,” Philonise Floyd told CNN, calling for the death penalty.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter