MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday he has upgraded the charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder and filed charges against the other three officers involved in George Floyd's death.
Court records now show Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder without intent, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. With the upgraded murder charge, his bail has been upped from $500,000 to $1 million.
The other three officers -- Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng -- are now charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
With all four officers in the case now charged, Ellison reminded the community that getting justice for Floyd will take time.
“As it is so hard to do, I now ask for continued patience,” Ellison said. “This case continues to be under investigation. We will not be able to say very much publicly about the investigation.”
Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing Floyd's family, called the decision a "significant step forward on the road to justice."
Floyd died on May 25 after Chauvin held him to the ground by putting his knee in Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The incident, which was captured on video by a bystander, has sparked an outcry across the nation, calls for policing changes, and unrest and violence.
According to the charges filed against against the officers, Lane and Kueng helped Chauvin hold Floyd down while Thao stood nearby. Floyd told the officers, “I can’t breathe” multiple times. He repeatedly said “mama” and “please" and said, "I'm about to die", but the officers did not move from their positions.
At one point, Lane asked, “Should we roll him on his side?” and Chauvin said no. Floyd eventually appeared to stop breathing or speaking. Kueng checked his pulse and found none, but none of the officers moved until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman initially charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. Over the weekend, however, Gov. Tim Walz stripped Freeman of control over the prosecution, putting Ellison in the lead.
"This is absolutely a team effort," Ellison said. "We are working together on this case with only one goal: justice for George Floyd."
“Trying this case will not be an easy thing,” Ellison said. “Winning a conviction will be hard,” noting that Freeman is the only prosecutor in the state who has successfully won murder conviction for a police officer.
When asked if he will accept plea deals from any of the officers, Ellison said it was too early to begin that conversation, but they are preparing to try the case.
"If something else happens along the way, we'll see," he said.
Chauvin was arrested last Friday and is currently being held in segregation at the state's maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights.
The other three officers are expected to be in custody by the end of the day Wednesday, according to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans. He would not say whether they will be held in county jail or state prison.
CHARGES: OFFICERS HELD FLOYD DOWN EVEN AFTER HE STOPPED MOVING, BREATHING
According to the charges, Lane and Kueng responded to the initial 911 call from Cup Foods about a customer using counterfeit currency. They located Floyd in a nearby vehicle.
As Lane began speaking with Floyd, Lane pulled his gun out, pointed it a Floyd’s open window and directed him to show his hands. When Floyd put his hands on the steering wheel, Lane put his gun back in his holster.
Lane then ordered Floyd out of the car and handcuffed him.
After sitting Floyd down on the sidewalk and talking for a few minutes, Lane explained they were arresting him for passing counterfeit currency. Lane and Kueng stood him up and attempted to walk him to their squad car, but they tried to put him inside, Floyd stiffened up and fell to the ground.
“Floyd told the officers that he was not resisting but did not want to get in the back seat and was claustrophobic,” the charges say.
Chauvin and Thao eventually arrived on the scene to assist. As the officers were trying force Floyd into the backseat of the squad car, Floyd repeatedly said that he could not breathe and would not go voluntarily into the vehicle.
Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the squad car and he went down on the ground, still handcuffed. Kueng held his back and Lane held his legs while Chauvin pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck.
Floyd told the officers “I can’t breathe” multiple times and repeated said “mama” and “please,” but the officers did not move from their positions.
At one point, Floyd said, “I’m about to die,” but the officers did not move from their positions.
Lane asked, “Should we roll him on his side?” and Chauvin says, “No, staying put where we got him.” Lane said he was worried about “excited delirium,” but Chauvin replied, “That’s why we have him on his stomach.”
“Despite his comments, [Lane] took no actions to assist Mr. Floyd, to change his position, or to reduce the force the officers were using against Mr. Floyd,” the criminal complaint filed against Lane reads.
The body camera video shows that after nearly six minutes on the ground, Floyd eventually appeared to stop moving or breathing. Lane said, “want to roll him on his side.” Kueng checked his pulse and found none, but none of the officers moved until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later.
Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for a total of eight minutes and 46 seconds, including for two minutes and 43 seconds after Floyd was non-responsive, the charges say.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide and determined his heart stopped as the officers restrained him.
“Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous,” the charges say. “Officer Chauvin’s restraint of Mr. Floyd in this manner for a prolonged period was a substantial causal factor in Mr. Floyd losing consciousness, constituting substantial bodily harm, and Mr. Floyd’s death as well.”
'ALL THE WORLD IS WATCHING'
Crump, Floyd's family's lawyer, said Wednesday he expected the remaining three fired officers to be charged before Floyd's memorial service on Thursday.
"Remember, one officer said, 'he doesn't have a pulse, maybe we should turn him on his side.' However, Officer Chauvin said 'no.' That shows intent,” Crump said Wednesday. “Equally important is the fact that those two knees in his back for not 1 minute, not 2 minutes, not 3 minutes, not 4 minutes, not 5 minutes, not 6 minutes, not 7 minutes, not 8 minutes but for almost 9 minutes...George Floyd begged for air."
Benjamin Crump spoke at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, where he had accompanied Floyd’s family members—including his son—as they saw for the first time the memorial that had been set up there for Floyd.
"All the world is watching," Crump said, leading the crowd in a chant.
Following the news that all four officers have now been charged in the case, Crump wrote on Twitter, "This is a bittersweet moment. We are deeply gratified that [Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison] took decisive action, arresting & charging ALL the officers involved in #GeorgeFloyd's death & upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder."