Charges against former officer Chauvin upgraded to 2nd-degree murder; remaining officers charged in fatal arrest of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin

After more than a week of protests and outcry over the fatal arrest of George Floyd on Memorial Day, Wednesday Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced an upgraded charge against former police officer Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder, in addition to third-degree murder charges. Ellison also announced aiding and abetting second-degree murder charges against the three remaining officers involved, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng.

The announcement comes several days after the arrest of Derek Chauvin, 44, on May 29. Chauvin was the former officer seen on video captured by onlookers with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as he lay on his stomach and handcuffed next to a squad car.

The other officers on the scene were seen in videos either holding down Floyd’s torso and lower body as Chauvin kept his knee on his neck or standing by while Floyd pleaded repeatedly for his life and complained of not being able to breathe. Several onlookers, including one EMT, also pleaded for the officers to get off of Floyd.

At one point in the video, an officer identified as Lane, asked, “Should we roll him on his side?” to which Chauvin replied, “No, staying put where we got him,” according to the complaint. Thao, a 10-year veteran of the department, was seen on video essentially standing guard and helping to keep at bay onlookers who wanted to help Floyd.

Floyd was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center shortly after the arrest where he was pronounced dead. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has since ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, updating their initial findings after an independent autopsy by the Floyd family found that he died of asphyxiation from sustained pressure.

Today’s announcement by Attorney General Ellison comes after one of the most turbulent weeks in Minneapolis history. Protests and some riots have occurred in the streets night after night in the Twin Cities and other cities across America, demanding justice for Floyd and other victims of police killings, and in particular, calling for charges against all of the officers involved.

The crowd of people gathered on 38th & Chicago Ave. in South Minneapolis, the site Floyd’s final moments, rejoiced when the upgraded charges for Chauvin and additional charges for the remaining officers, were announced by way of a tweet from Sen. Amy Klobuchar. A chorus of “We Shall Overcome” rang out in the streets, with many crying and hugging one another prior to Ellison’s official announcement.

Attorney Benjamin Crump and members of the Floyd family, including son Quincy Mason, spoke to the crowd earlier in the afternoon, thanking those gathered for their support and solidarity. Later, Crump said he was pleased with the additional charges but he is still calling for first-degree murder charges against Chauvin.

Tomorrow a memorial service will take place for Floyd in Minneapolis with two more to follow in North Carolina where he was born, and Houston, Texas, where he grew up and spent most of his childhood.

The MSR will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.