MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors are charging a Minneapolis police officer accused of pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck with second-degree murder, and for the first time will level charges against three other officers at the scene, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Widely seen bystander video showing Floyd’s May 25 death has sparked sometimes violent protests nationwide and around the world. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired May 26 and initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers involved were also fired but were not immediately charged.
The Star Tribune reported reported that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would be upgrading the charge against Chauvin while also charging Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The newspaper cited multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the case that spoke on condition of anonymity.
Earl Gray, who represents Lane, told The Associated Press that the report “is accurate” before ending the call.
Widely seen bystander video showing Floyd’s death has sparked sometimes violent protests around the world against police brutality and discrimination.
Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers as well as more serious charges for Chauvin, who held his knee to Floyd’s neck, despite his protests that he couldn’t breathe, and stayed there even after Floyd stopped moving. Floyd, a black man, was in handcuffs when he died with his face pressed to the street.
Earlier Wednesday, the Floyd family’s attorney demanded that all four officers be charged.
“He died because he was starving for air,” Ben Crump said. “He needed a breath. So we are demanding justice. We expect all of the police officers to be arrested before we have the memorial here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, tomorrow.”
Crump said the other officers failed to protect a man who was pleading for help and said he couldn’t breathe.
Crump pointed to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, which said that while Floyd was complaining he couldn’t breathe, Lane asked Chauvin twice if they should roll him on his side. Chauvin said they should keep him on his stomach.
“To us that is intent,” Crump said. And he said the other officers were complicit because they failed to take action.
“We are expecting these officers to be charged as accomplices,” Crump said.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said on a National Governors Association call that state Attorney General Keith Ellison, now leading prosecutions in the Floyd case, would make an announcement later Wednesday on the other officers. Ellison spokesman John Stiles confirmed that Ellison would give an update but would not provide any details.