Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday (May 31) that the state's attorney general, Keith Ellison, will take the lead in any prosecutions related to the death of George Floyd.
The news comes after an intense weekend of protests in 75 cities around the country. The ongoing protests following the police killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor took a chaotic and dangerous turn, as police were recorded tear-gassing protesters in Minneapolis, driving vehicles through crowds in Brooklyn, beating men and women with batons in Los Angeles and tasering a Black couple in Atlanta trying to make it to their home.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was recorded in a cellphone video with his knee in the neck of George Floyd while attempting to apprehend him, causing his death, was arrested Friday (May 29) and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, the Hennepin County, Minnesota attorney Mike Freeman announced.
He was reportedly taken into custody by the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
“We felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator,” said Freeman. “We have never charged a case in that kind of time frame and we can only charge a case when we have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.”
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Walz's decision to have Ellison take the lead comes after requests from activists, some City Council members and a civil rights group.
Ellison confirmed the news via Twitter, writing, "It with a large degree of humility and a great seriousness, I accept for my office the responsibility for leadership on this critical case involving the killing of George Floyd."
He continued, "We are going to bring to bear all the resources necessary to achieve justice in this case."
It with a large degree of humility and a great seriousness, I accept for my office the responsibility for leadership on this critical case involving the killing of George Floyd.— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) June 1, 2020
We are going to bring to bear all the resources necessary to achieve justice in this case. pic.twitter.com/XXafzFT0Kd
In a press conference today, Walz also said he received a call from Jay-Z to raise protesters’ demand that all four officers involved in Floyd’s murder face justice.
Walz told FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul, “It was so incredibly human. It was a dad—and I think quite honestly a Black man whose visceral pain of this that he knew. His words summarized that justice needs to be served here. He said he feels the compassion and the humanity of these folks who are speaking,” Walz said. “He knows the world is watching, and how Minnesota handles this is going to have an impact across the country. It’s a positive sign that someone of a stature, that has a presence like that, is focused in the moment of what Minnesotas are focused on.”
The other three officers seen in the video of the fatal police encounter — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng — were also all fired, but have yet to be charged.
Many are calling for charges against law enforcement officers who escalated violence at what were often peaceful demonstrations against police brutality.
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.
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)