Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has vowed to prosecute all four officers involved in the death of George Floyd “to the highest degree of accountability that the law and the facts will support,” NBC News reported. However, he cautioned the investigation will take time.
Ellison has been appointed to lead the prosecution of any criminal cases that result from the arrest of Floyd.
Floyd, an unarmed 47-year-old African American man, died in police custody on May 25, after Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for at least 7 minutes, even as the victim protested that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd had been accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby business.
The death has sparked days of sometimes-violent protests nationwide.
Already Chauvin has been arrested and charged with 3rd-degree murder, while the other three officers involved in the arrest have not faced any criminal charges, as of this writing. Those three have been identified as Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane. Kueng and Lane also physically intervened in Floyd’s arrest, while Thao stood nearby and didn’t act.
The charge that was brought against Chauvin — and the lack of charges for the other three officers — has not sat well with those calling for justice in this case, who claim that all four men should be charged and that Chauvin, at the very least, should be charged with a more serious crime.
Further, those calling for justice insist the process is taking too long.
Ellison, however, noted that rushing the investigation could have consequences down the line. Specifically, he doesn’t want to overlook any evidence that could inform the prosecution.
“It is essential that this prosecution is viewed as just and fair. I don’t want to have to defend this prosecution from false accusations of rush to judgement or pressure by the public,” he said.
He also noted the time-consuming investigation is not sitting well with those who want justice served and served quickly.
“I know that people are frustrated by the pacing, but I want to assure them that as a person who has dedicated my whole life to civil rights and justice, I am going to pursue justice vigorously, relentlessly, uncompromisingly,” he said.
Ellison did not rule out the possibility that Chauvin could be charged with a more serious crime than 3rd degree murder, saying only that he intends to prosecute him, and the other three officers involved in the case, as much as the law would allow.