Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has upgraded the charge against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd‘s neck for more than eight minutes shortly before Floyd died, to second-degree murder.
Before Ellison officially announced the strengthening of the charges, Crump praised Ellison’s decision in a joint statement with the Floyd family.
“This is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd,” the joint statement said. “We are deeply gratified that Attorney General Keith Ellison took decisive action in this case, arresting and charging all the officers involved in George Floyd’s death and upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder.”
“This is a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest,” Crump said in the statement. “This is a source of peace for George’s family in this painful time.”
The statement also urged Ellison to go even further and raise the murder charge to first-degree, which carries a life sentence.
“These officers knew they could act with impunity, given the Minneapolis Police Department’s widespread and prolonged pattern and practice of violating people’s constitutional rights,” the statement said. “Therefore, we also demand permanent transparent police accountability at all levels and at all times.”
With a first-degree murder charge, prosecutors would need to prove that Chauvin’s killing of Floyd was premeditated which can be difficult.
Countrywide protests over Floyd’s death and the treatment of African Americans by the country’s law enforcement and justice system have erupted in the past week. In many cities, the tension between protesters and law enforcement boiled over, leading to violence, looting, and property damage. Nearly two dozen states and Washington, D.C., have mobilized their national guards.