Updated Apr 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Minnesota AG: We didn't have evidence George Floyd's killing was a hate crime

A screenshot of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison being interviewed on "60 Minutes."

A screenshot of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison being interviewed on "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told "60 Minutes" that prosecutors didn't charge Derek Chauvin with committing a hate crime as "we only charge those crimes that we had evidence that we could put in front of a jury to prove."

Driving the news: The former Minneapolis police officer was convicted of murder and manslaughter charges over George Floyd's last Tuesday — one of the few to even face charges of killing a Black person.

What they're saying: CBS' Scott Pelley noted to Ellison in the interview, broadcast Sunday, that prosecutors could have charged him with a hate crime under Minnesota law and that "the whole world sees this as a white officer killing a Black man because he is Black."

  • But Ellison said without evidence of an explicit bias, prosecutors could not bring such a charge.
  • "In our society, there is a social norm that killing certain kinds of people is more tolerable than other kinds of people," Ellison said.
  • "In order for us to stop and pay serious attention to this case and be outraged by it, it's not necessary that Derek Chauvin had a specific racial intent to harm George Floyd.
"The fact is we know that, through housing patterns, through employment, through wealth, through a whole range of other things — so often, people of color, Black people, end up with harsh treatment from law enforcement. And other folks doing the exact same thing just don't."

Of note: Pelley asked Ellison what kind of message it would send were Chauvin to receive the maximum 40-year sentence when he is due to be sentenced on June 16.

  • "It is important for the Court to not go light or heavy," Ellison replied. 
"The sentence should be tailored to the offense, tailored to the circumstances of the case. ... the state never wanted revenge against Derek Chauvin. We just wanted accountability."
— Ellison

Go deeper: Minnesota AG says he wasn't "convinced we were going to win" Chauvin case

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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