Three More Former Minneapolis Police Officers Charged With Aiding and Abetting Murder of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin Charges Elevated to Second-Degree Murder

Three more former Minneapolis police officers were charged Wednesday in the death of George Floyd, five days after charges were brought against a fourth officer who was seen in a video kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

The three former officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, were charged with aiding and abetting murder, according to criminal complaints filed by the state of Minnesota. The murder charge against the fourth, Derek Chauvin, was also elevated to second-degree, from third-degree.

Chauvin, who held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while detaining him on May 25, was also initially charged Friday with manslaughter by the Hennepin County prosecutor. He still faces both the third-degree and manslaughter charges as well, according to an amended complaint.

All four officers were fired on May 26, after a video showing Floyd’s arrest went viral.

An attorney for Kueng said in a statement that the former officer turned himself in at about 1:35 p.m. local time. The two other officers were in the process of being placed in custody, officials said Wednesday.

All four of the men face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, according to the criminal complaints.

The Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the elevated murder charge against Chauvin or the charges filed against the other three officers Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if Lane and Thao had retained lawyers.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asked the community for continued patience on Wednesday as his team of prosecutors investigate the case, noting that prosecution of police officers for such a charge is a difficult task.

“I feel a tremendous sense of weight, I feel that this is a very serious moment,” Ellison said. “I can tell you I feel no joy in this, but I do feel a tremendous sense of duty and responsibility.”

The attorney general insisted that public pressure was not a factor in his decision to elevate the murder charge or charge the other officers involved in the case.

Ellison explained Wednesday after the charges were announced that first-degree murder would require proving premeditation, which the facts do not support at the moment. Instead, his team will assert that Chauvin committed a felony assault which unintentionally resulted in Floyd’s death, which fits the requirements for second-degree murder, Ellison said.

“To the Floyd family, to our beloved community and to everyone that is watching, I say George Floyd mattered. He was loved,” Ellison said. “His family was important. His life had value and we will seek justice for him, and for you, and we will find it.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement that Wednesday’s developments were a significant step forward, but the anguish on display following Floyd’s death goes beyond a single incident.

“George Floyd’s death is the symptom of a disease,” Walz said. “We will not wake up one day and have the disease of systemic racism cured for us. This is on each of us to solve together, and we have hard work ahead.”

While certainly progress on civil rights have been made over the course of American history, Walz said in a press conference on Wednesday, he truly believes that this is the country’s “last shot” to fix these systemic issues.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Doha Madani