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3 more officers charged in George Floyd death and murder charge upgraded against officer Chauvin

Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd's neck. (Darnella Frazier/Facebook/Zuma Press/TNS) | Booking photos for Chauvin released on June 1, 2020. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/Released)
June 03, 2020

Three more Minneapolis Police Department officers have been charged in the case of George Floyd, and murder charge against the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck has been upgraded.

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the charges in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, but the charges were also revealed ahead of time by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

“Today, I filed an amended complaint that charges former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with murder in the second degree for the death of George Floyd. I believe the evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second-degree murder.”

Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s death for several minutes during the arrest on May 25, was charged on Friday with manslaughter and third-degree murder. His third-degree murder charge will be upgraded to second-degree murder.

“For second-degree murder, you have to intend for murder to occur,” Ellison explained.

Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 25-and-a-half years in prison if the act was intentional, or 12-and-a-half years if the act was unintentional.

“Today arrests warrants were issued for former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao” Ellison added. “I filed a complaint that charges police officers Kueng, Lane, and Thao with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree – a felony offense.”

Thao, Kueng, and Lane were identified as the three other officers on the scene, and were fired last week for their involvement in the incident. They will now be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

One officer is in custody and the remaining two officers are expected to be in custody by later today.

Kueng was one of the first officers on scene and had assisted in pinning Floyd down. Lane had pointed his gun at Floyd before Floyd was handcuffed. Thao was seen watching Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the Floyd family, released a statement ahead of Ellison’s official announcement.

“This is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd,” the 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.”

The Floyd family hired independent medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden who conducted an autopsy on Floyd and released his findings on Monday, which indicated Floyd died from asphyxiation caused by Chauvin’s knee restricting Floyd’s breathing.

Baden said he counted about “three minutes and 50 seconds between the time [Floyd] is on the ground and the time he becomes motionless,” referring to video footage of the encounter.

Baden noted pleas from bystanders watching the arrest that Floyd was dying and that officers needed to let up. Baden also noted Chauvin continued to keep his knee on Floyd for more than four minutes until Emergency Medical Technicians arrived and “found he had no pulse, he had cardiac arrest.”

The findings of the independent autopsy stand in contrast to the findings of an earlier autopsy performed by the Hennepin County Medical Center, which assessed that Floyd died from a combination of underlying health conditions, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, My State reported.