MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Attorney General’s office has finished its initial review of evidence in the investigation of four former Minneapolis Police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd and has rendered a decision regarding additional charges, two law enforcement officials briefed on the state’s investigation told CNN.
One of the officials said state Attorney General Keith Ellison will be making a significant announcement in the case early this afternoon. The officials would not reveal what the decision was.
The announcement comes more than a week after Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide protests that call for the end to police violence against black citizens.
Derek Chauvin, who had his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Officers Thomas Lane and J.A. Keung, who helped restrain Floyd, and a fourth officer, Tou Thao, who stood near the others, have not been charged.
Two autopsies on Floyd determined that he died by homicide. Minneapolis Police chief Medaria Arradondo fired the four officers and said they were “complicit” in Floyd’s death, and Floyd’s family and protesters nationwide have called for them to be arrested and convicted for the killing.
According to the video and the criminal complaint, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe, as witnesses protested that he was dying, and even as Lane twice asked to turn him onto his side. Still, Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for almost three minutes after Floyd became unresponsive, the complaint states.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, told CNN Wednesday that he is confident the other officers will be charged before Thursday’s public memorial in Minneapolis.
“I am confident that these officers will be charged before people in Minneapolis say their final goodbyes to George Floyd, may he rest in peace,” he said.
In addition to possible charges against the other officers, Ellison could also choose to upgrade the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, according to Don Lewis, the special prosecutor in the trial of the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop.
Minnesota AG cautioned for patience
Ellison was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz to take over the case from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman on Sunday.
A former Demoratic congressman, Ellison previously said that he had “every expectation” that charges will be filed against the officers and that he hoped they’d come soon. But on Monday, after taking over the case, he cautioned against a rush to judgment and said prosecutors will be careful and methodical in bringing charges.
“We are moving as expeditiously, quickly and effectively as we can,” he said. “But I need to protect this prosecution. I am not going to create a situation where somebody can say this was a rush to judgement.”
Police officers are rarely charged with crimes for violence against black men, and even in those rare cases, juries have repeatedly shown an unwillingness to convict. The list of such failed cases is long.
In 2017, for example, the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Castile was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter and intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety.