Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) defended her record as a prosecutor on Friday following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck.
Floyd, 46, died on Monday after a police officer pinned him to the street while he repeatedly pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” The moment was captured on video, prompting a nationwide outcry and violent demonstrations in the city of Minneapolis. On Thursday, police were forced to abandon a precinct station after protesters stormed it and set the building on fire.
Law enforcement authorities announced on Friday the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck had been placed in custody.
“There should be charges,” Klobuchar, a former Hennepin County prosecutor, said on MSNBC shortly before the announcement. “I hope that we will see swift justice in this case. … this is right in front of our eyes.”
The senator added there ought to be a “large scale investigation of what has been going on at the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Floyd’s death has again raised questions about Klobuchar’s record as a prosecutor in the state ― where she was known for her tough-on-crime approach ― as Vice President Joe Biden considers potential 2020 running mates.
According to The Washington Post, Klobuchar chose not to bring charges against officers in more than two dozen cases in which people died in encounters with police, instead handing the decision to grand juries, which tend to side with officers.
Klobuchar said on MSNBC that while the practice of referring cases to a grand jury was common at the time, she thinks “that was wrong now.”
But she said it is “absolutely false” that she declined to prosecute Derek Chauvin, the officer at the center of Floyd’s death, for a police shooting that took place in 2006 in which Chauvin and five other officers shot and killed a man who they said aimed a shotgun at them. Klobuchar said the case went to a grand jury after she had left her Hennepin County office and was elected to the Senate.
The Hennepin County prosecutor’s office also issued a statement on Friday saying Klobuchar had “no involvement” in the prosecution of the 2006 case.
Asked on MSNBC whether she should withdraw from consideration as Biden’s running mate over the matter, Klobuchar said the decision was up to the former vice president.
“Since I’ve got into the Senate, I’ve been one of the leaders in terms of pushing for sentencing reform. That’s my record. And Joe Biden will decide who he wants in this job,” Klobuchar said.
This post was updated with more information from the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office.
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