Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison Defends Keeping D.A. Who Has Poor Record With Black Community

District Attorney Mike Freeman doesn’t have a history of prosecuting white cops, so why was he left on the George Floyd case?

Keith Ellison is the first Black Attorney General of Minnesota and he is now handling the top legal official handling the George Floyd murder case. Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman, who originally had the case and bizarrely said, “there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge,” was removed from it after outrage over the slowness in bringing charges against now former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for killing Floyd..
Freeman’s delay in not charging Chauvin ultimately sparked protests both Minneapolis  and nationwide.
Days later, Chauvin was the first of four officers to be charged, but only after the case was given to Ellison. However, Ellison has decided to continue to have Freeman on the team trying the case, which has left some activists confused. 

Critics have pointed out Freeman’s problematic record with the Black community. He refused to prosecute the cop in the Jamar Clark shooting, an unarmed  Black man who was killed outside of a house party in November of 2015.
In October of 2018, Freeman, currently in his sixth term, was described by the Star Tribune as someone who “chooses to jail people for $10 worth of marijuana” and “commands a system where the color of your skin and how much money you have determines whether you go free or go to prison.”
Constitutional law professor Gloria Browne-Marshall explained to CNN on June 4 why she believes Ellison decided to keep Freeman on the case saying, “He seemed more a politician than the kind of advocate I would want to zealously defend the rights of Mr. Floyd. My concern is that he is bringing in the prosecutor who is not trusted within the Black community, and someone who has, yes, has won conviction of an officer, but that was a Black officer who accidentally shot a white woman.” 
The only case against a police officer that Freeman successfully prosecuted was Mohamed Noor, who was convicted of the fatal shooting of Justine Damond in 2017. Noor, who was Black, was reportedly the only officer convicted of an on duty shooting in Minnesota's history.
While appearing on a June 5 episode of The Clay Cane Show on SiriusXM Urban View, Ellison stood by his choice to retain Freeman on the case and responded to the criticism. 

“I just want to lay this out. The folks who are making this criticism saying that, ‘Yes, we know that it's very rare that police ever get convicted for the crimes that they commit.

RELATED: BET Calls For Action In George Floyd And Breonna Taylor Police Killings

"Yes. It's going to be an uphill battle. Yes, it's going to be very difficult and… and, therefore, we're going to take tools away from you that theHennepin County attorney office may be able to provide to achieve that very difficult goal.’ I just want people to think it through.”

He continued, “The fact is there's an office. The Minnesota attorney general might be one person, but the attorney general's office is nearly 400 people. Likewise, at the Hennepin County attorney's office, a lot of victim witness advocates, a lot of lawyers, a lot of paralegals, a lot of, folks who work on this stuff all the time -- and if they say we're here to help to advance the cause of justice, I'm like, ‘Nope, some people don't like you so I'm going to handicap myself in pursuit of justice.’ That does not strike me as a sensible way to get a conviction in this case.”

Listen to a clip of the interview below where Ellison goes into more detail about how he plans to win this case.

George Floyd was killed on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, had his knee in the 46-year-old’s neck for more than seven minutes.

By May 29, Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and arrested on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges. On June 3, his charges were upgraded to second-degree murder by Ellison.

After being terminated, the three other officers who were on the scene when Floyd was killed, Thomas Lane, 37, Tou Thao, 34,  and J. Alexander Kueng, 26, were arrested June 3 and charged with aiding and abetting.


BET has been covering every angle of George Floyd’s death in police custody, other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.


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