May 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Minnesota AG: Prosecution of officer in George Floyd case shouldn't be rushed

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison cautioned in an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer involved in the death of George Floyd, is "very early in the process" and that charges could be amended or added.

Why it matters: Chauvin was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, which implies that he did not intend to kill Floyd. Some protestors have demanded more severe charges, and Floyd's family has asked Ellison to serve as a special prosecutor in the case.

What he's saying: "To ask people to be patient who have suffered so long and been denied justice so long is really asking a lot of them. But if you want to make sure that this case results in a successful prosecution, you gotta understand the defense attorneys who are going to be on the other side are very skillful, and they will try to break every single link in the prosecutorial chain," Ellison said.

  • "So I ask people, you know, don't rush this thing. Let's get this thing right. Remember, the Walter Scott jury hung. The Rodney King jury came back acquitting the defendants."
  • "These cases, which look so obvious to us watching videotape — you get them into trial with some really good lawyers and things can go in a very different direction. So let's get this thing right."

Between the lines: Seven years after the start of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officers to be charged in the deaths of African Americans — and even more rare for an officer to go to jail, Axios' Ursula Perano reports.

  • Many prominent cases involving the controversial deaths of black people, particularly at the hands of police, have ended with either no charges or no jail time for police officers.

The big picture: Ellison said African American residents of Minneapolis have a legitimate reason to fear and distrust their local police offices based on "a history that has been repeated time and time again."

  • "I want to say that many officers are great people. I know so many of them, and I think [Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo] is an extraordinary person. And the mayor and the council deserve a lot of credit for appointing Mr. Arradondo. But it is an endemic problem in the Minneapolis Police Department."
  • "One problem is our police federation president, who operates as sort of an alternative chief, who I think undermines good order in the department."

Lt. Bob Kroll, the president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, received backlash from city officials and the public after he spoke at a Trump rally in 2019, the Star Tribune reports.

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