The Three Cops Who Watched George Floyd Die Have Been Charged

Brian Branch Price/Zuma

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The three former Minneapolis police officers who stood by as Derek Chauvin held his knee to George Floyd’s neck have been charged with aiding and abetting murder, and the charge against Chauvin has been elevated to second-degree murder, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday.

“We’re here today because George Floyd is not here,” Ellison, who became the lead prosecutor in Chauvin’s murder case two days ago, said. “He should be alive, but he’s not.”

All four officers present at the time of Floyd’s death were fired from their positions on May 26. Five days ago, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years and entails “perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life,” according to Minnesota law. Minnesota is one of only three states to divide murder into three separate charges.

Second-degree murder, Ellison explained, does not require the intention to cause the death of a human being, but encompasses an unintentional killing that occurs while knowingly committing another felony. “We would contend that George Floyd was assaulted, and so that would be the underlying felony,” he said. “I believe the evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second-degree murder.”

“I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, his community, and our state,” he said.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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