For those demanding accountability and justice for the law enforcement officers involved in the death of George Floyd, there is significant news out of Minnesota.
Not only have former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin’s charges been upgraded to second-degree murder, but the other three former officers who were on the scene of Floyd’s arrest have also been criminally charged, according to USA Today.
Charges filed, upgraded
As the events surrounding the death of Floyd became clearer, it seemed clear to many that something was going to have to be done with regard not just to the charges to be faced by Chauvin, but also his three colleagues present during the arrest.
New video footage of the event shot from different angles suggests that two officers were holding down different parts of Floyd’s body as Chauvin kept pressure on his neck, while another officer oversaw crowd control and traffic.
The other three officers — all of whom had already been fired over the incident, according to the BBC — were Thomas Lane, J.A. Keung, and Tou Thao, and they are now being charged with varying degrees of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the commission of a felony, while Chauvin will face a second-degree murder charge, USA Today reports.
Difficult prosecution looms
As noted by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, however, “Trying this case will not be an easy thing… Winning a conviction will be hard.”
Indeed, the new and upgraded charges, while largely demanded by the local community and protestors nationwide, may make it more difficult to obtain guilty verdicts against some or all of these defendants, and many fear that failure to secure convictions could produce another wave of racial unrest across the country.
Andrew McCarthy of National Review suggests that the new charges against Chauvin do not fit the facts of the case as well as the prior third-degree and second-degree manslaughter charges, and he fears they may also lead to the criminalization of legitimate police use of force due to the difference in the legal elements that comprise the newly-charged offense as opposed to the original charge.
Floyd family “gratified”
When the initial murder and manslaughter charges were announced against Chauvin, members of Floyd’s family openly stated that a first-degree murder charge should have been issued, according to Fox News.
Hopefully, the upgraded charge against Chauvin and the new charges against the three other officers provides them with at least some solace.
According to The Washington Post, Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump stated, “This is a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest.”
Crump continued: “That is a source of peace for George’s family in this painful time. Attorney General Ellison has informed the family that his office will continue to investigate and will upgrade the charges to first-degree murder if the evidence supports it.”