Civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton attacked President Donald Trump’s agenda, vowed not to let people use George Floyd as prop and declared it was time for black people to demand ‘get your knee off our necks’ during his fiery eulogy for the man whose death at the hands of police has sparked global protests.
Hollywood celebrities, musicians and politicians gathered in front of the Floyd’s golden casket on Thursday at a sanctuary at North Central University in the first of a series of memorials set for three cities over the next six days.
The service took place as a judge less than a mile away set bail at $1 million each for three of the four fired Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting murder in Floyd’s death. Floyd died on May 25 after white police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with murder, put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the pavement, gasping that he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd’s memorial drew the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and members of Congress, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Ayana Pressley. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took a knee in front Floyd’s casket and sobbed before the service got underway. Among the celebrities in attendance were T.I., Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Marsai Martin.
During his fierce eulogy, Rev Sharpton criticized President Trump’s rhetoric and handling of the protests that have stemmed from Floyd’s death, including how he staged a photo op outside a Washington DC church with a Bible earlier this week.
‘I’ve never seen anyone hold a bible like that (and) I’ve been preaching since I was a little boy. If he’s watching us today, I’d like him to open that Bible and reach Ecclesiastes 3: ‘To every season, there is a time.’ I’d like him to understand what time it is,’ Sharpton said.
‘We cannot use Bibles as a prop. For those that have agendas that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop. Let us stand for what is right.’
At one point during the service, mourners stood in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to mark the fatal length of time the officer held his knee to Floyd’s neck.
‘George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is because you kept your knee on our neck,’ Sharpton said.
‘What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country, in education, in health services, and in every area of American life. It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’
George Floyd’s family members surround his golden casket at the Lindquist Sanctuary at the North Central University on Thursday during the first of three memorial services in the next six days in his honor
The Rev. Al Sharpton delivers a passionate address at the memorial of George Floyd at the North Central University in Minneapolis on Thursday
George Floyd’s casket leaves the sanctuary at North Central University in Minneapolis on Thursday after the memorial service
Gianna Floyd, George’s six-year-old daughter was three rows back during the service. She was seen putting her hand on the back of a relative to comfort them as they cried during the service
During his eulogy, Sharpton vowed a movement to ‘change the whole system of justice’ and said it was time to hold police accountable.
‘Time is out for not holding you accountable. Time is out for you making excuses. Time is out for you trying to stall. Time is out for empty words and empty promises. Time is out for you filibustering and trying to stall the arm of justice” he said.
‘There is a time and a season for everything,’ he said. ‘Time is up. Time is out. This is the time.
‘Y’all talk about making America great. Great for who and when? We gonna make America great for everybody.’
Addressing the nationwide demonstrations, some of which have descended into destruction, Sharpton said Floyd’s family did not condone violence.
‘There have been protests all over the world. Some have looted and done other things. None of us condone it – looting and violence,’ Sharpton said.
Floyd’s memorial service will be held on Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis where he died at the hands of police last week
‘But there is a difference between those calling for peace – and those calling for quiet. Some y’all don’t want peace, you just want quiet. You just want us to suffer in silence.’
Sharpton acknowledged that looters and violent protesters who broke the law should be held accountable but said the four officers implicated in Floyd’s death should also pay for their crimes.
‘Some in the criminal justice system have trouble looking at a tape and seeing that there’s probable cause,’ he said.
Acknowledging the high US death toll from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – which saw mourners wear masks for the service – he said Floyd should not be among the deceased.
‘He did not die of common health conditions. He died of a common American criminal justice malfunction. He died because there has not been the corrective behavior that has taught this country that if you commit a crime, it does not matter if you wear blue jeans or a blue uniform, you must pay for the crime you commit.’
Floyd’s brother, Philones Floyd, told the crowd at the memorial he was in awe of the number of people paying their respects as he recounted their childhoods playing catch and eating banana-mayonnaise sandwiches.
‘All these people came to see my brother,’ he said. ‘That’s amazing to me that he touched so many people’s hearts because he touched our hearts.’
Meanwhile, Ben Crump, a lawyer for Floyd’s family, told the memorial service that the police action the day Floyd was killed was evil.
‘What we saw in that video was evil. So America, as we proclaim as we memorialize George Floyd, do not accept evil. Protest against evil. We cannot cooperate with evil. We cannot cooperate with torture,’ Crump said.
Floyd’s casket was flanked by white and purple flowers and a vibrant image was projected above the pulpit of a mural of Floyd painted at the street corner where he was seized by police on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. The message on the mural: ‘I can breathe now.’
The sanctuary normally seats 1,000, but because of the coronavirus outbreak, the capacity was reduced to about 500, and mourners wore masks.
Floyd’s death has empowered a national movement that has seen widespread demonstrations and civil strife in cities right across the United States to condemn racism and police abuses.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey kneels in front of George Floyd’s gold casket and sobs
Tiffany Haddish joined Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, on stage to stand in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds
Actor Kevin Hart and musician Ludacris are seen during a memorial service for George Floyd on Thursday
Tiffany Haddish, wearing a cheetah print coronavirus mask, sits in a section of VIP seats with producer Will Packer (right) on Thursday at the memorial service
Tiffany Haddish pulls down her mask to smile after being called out by Rev. Al Sharpton at Thursday’s service
Actor Tyrese Gibson attends the service. A seat that was reserved for Tyler Perry was empty
Gianna, George’s six-year-old daughter, is led into the ceremony holding a coronavirus mask
George’s adult son Quincy Mason Floyd attends the service in Minneapolis wearing a mask with a picture of his father on it
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who fired all four police officers now charged in Floyd’s killing, took a knee nearby as his body arrived ahead of the service.
Floyd’s Promethean casket is the same type of custom-made coffin that singers Aretha Franklin and James Brown were laid to rest in.
President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House on Monday
In an interview with NBC’s Today at the site of the memorial, attorney Ben Crump said the Floyd family don’t want his death to be in vain.
‘It’s going to be a celebration of life, but it’s also going to be a plea to America and a plea for justice that we don’t let his death be in vain,’ Crump said. ‘We want everybody to use their forces to say no more – we’re tired of dying at the hands of the people supposed to protect us.’
It is the first of three memorial gatherings planned to honor Floyd’s life – the man whose name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
Floyd’s body will then travel to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born 46 years ago, for a two-hour public viewing and private service for the family on Saturday.
Finally, a public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life. A 500-person service on Tuesday will take place at The Fountain of Praise church and will include addresses from Sharpton, Crump, and the Rev. Remus E. Wright, the family pastor.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, may attend, and other political figures and celebrities are expected as well.
The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was shot dead by two white men while out running, will attend Floyd’s memorial in Houston, her attorney Lee Merritt told TMZ.
A private burial will follow.
George Floyd’s son, Quincy Mason Floyd, bows his head while his father’s cousin wipes tears at the memorial service on Thursday
Hart embraces Reverend Jesse Jackson before the ceremony on Thursday
Martin Luther King III and his family pay their respects to George Floyd ahead of his memorial service in Minneapolis
Civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and his son Jonathan Jackson pray in front of Floyd’s coffin ahead of his service
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (left) and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz arrive ahead of Floyd’s memorial service
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson is pictured at the memorial service for George Floyd on Thursday
Minneapolis cops take a knee before George Floyd’s casket is driven past on Thursday after his memorial
Crowds of people surrounded North Central University to pay their respects without being able to go inside
The organizers of the memorials want to acknowledge the meaning Floyd had in life to his large family and the broader meaning he has assumed in death, which happened after a white officer pressed a knee into the handcuffed black man’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
‘It would be inadequate if you did not regard the life and love and celebration the family wants,’ Rev Sharpton said prior to Thursday’s memorial. ‘But it would also be inadequate… if you acted as though we’re at a funeral that happened under natural circumstances.
‘The family is not independent of the community. The family wants to see something happen.’
Both the memorials in Minneapolis and Houston will include personal tributes and eulogies about social justice, Sharpton said.
Floyd’s final journey was designed with intention, Sharpton said. Having left Houston for Minneapolis in 2014 in search of a job and a new life, Floyd will retrace that path.
‘They collectively said we need to make the first memorial statement from the city he chose to go to make a living, that ended his life,’ he said.
The memorial services to honor Floyd are extraordinary but so are the circumstances surrounding them.
Since his May 25 death in Minneapolis, Floyd’s name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people and empowered a movement. Violent encounters between police, protesters, and observers have inflamed a country already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
The memorial service on Thursday happened less than a mile from where three of the cops charged in Floyd’s murder were having their first court appearance. They had their bail set at $1million
George Floyd’s body was taken to the North Central University in Minneapolis on Thursday ahead of the first of three services that will be held in the different cities over the next six days
Floyd’s death has empowered a national movement that has seen widespread demonstrations and civil strife in cities right across the United State to condemn racism and police abuses
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who fired all four police officers now charged in Floyd’s killing, took a knee nearby as his body arrived ahead of the service
Floyd’s memorial on Thursday took place at the same time three Minneapolis police officers who were at the scene, but did not intervene, will face court for the first time. It comes as prosecutors on Wednesday leveled new criminal charges against all four policemen implicated in Floyd’s death after he was filmed being pinned by his neck to the street during an arrest.
Derek Chauvin, who was jailed Friday on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, was newly charged with second-degree murder. He was the white officer seen in widely circulated video footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd gasped for air and repeatedly groaned, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’
Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – the three fellow officers fired from the Minneapolis police department along with Chauvin the next day – were charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Floyd’s family attorney said his relatives were relieved to hear all four officers had been charged.
‘They had a sense of relief… they were very thankful,’ Crump said. ‘George Floyd’s family and many others believe the charge should be first degree, however, we’re relieved (it’s been upgraded).
Crump said he didn’t believe the additional charges would have been brought if it were not for the widespread protests over the past week.
‘I don’t think we would have seen those charges. There’s evidence for these charges. There’s always evidence for many of these cases when white police kill black people, they just never get charged,’ he said.
Following the charges, demonstrations seen over the past week across the US remained large but turned notably more subdued.
In many cities, demonstrators defying nighttime curfews have been met by police in riot gear firing tear gas, mace and rubber bullets to disperse unruly crowds.
National Guard troops have been activated in several states to assist local law enforcement.
Floyd’s death has empowered a national movement that has seen widespread demonstrations and civil strife in cities right across the United State to condemn racism and police abuses. Pictured above is the memorial at the place where Floyd was killed
The service on Thursday is the first of three memorial gatherings planned to honor Floyd’s life – the man whose name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people across the country
Judge sets bail for three officers charged with aiding and abetting in George Floyd’s death to $1million at heavily guarded court hearing while star-studded memorial happens less than a mile away
Bail has been set at $1million for each of the three police officers who did nothing as George Floyd died under the knee of Derek Chauvin after a tense court hearing which was heavily guarded by both army and police where one of the officer’s lawyer’s asked the judge: ‘What was he supposed to do? Tell Chauvin to get off?’
J Alexander Kueng, 26, of Plymouth, Thomas Lane, 37, of St Paul and Tou Thao, 34, of Coon Rapids, made their first appearances in Hennepin County District Court today. They have been charged with Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Murder – Unintentional – While Committing a Felony and Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Manslaughter, Culpable Negligence Creating Unreasonable Risk.
The disgraced former cops were escorted through an underground tunnel between Hennepin County Jail and Hennepin County District Courtroom 141 where they appeared before Judge Paul Scoggin at 12.45 this afternoon.
Just a couple of blocks away mourners gathered at North Central University for a memorial service held by family and friends and led by Civil Rights leader Rev Al Sharpton.
The men appeared separately before a courtroom rendered sparse despite the high profile of the case due to social distancing measures. Each stood, masked, in regulation prison orange.
None of them spoke but Lane’s attorney argued that he’d only had four days on the job. He pleaded with the judge: ‘What was he supposed to do? Tell Chauvin to get off?’
Thao was first in a hearing that lasted only a few minutes and saw little objection from his attorney despite their request for a bail of $200,000 or $100,00 with conditions.
Next the court heard from Kg’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett who asked for a bail of $200,000 and described his client as a ‘young African American man male who grew up with an absentee father and a single mother’ and had turned to law enforcement to make his community, ‘a better place.’
He said that the graduate of Henry Patrick High School was captain of his high school soccer team, had traveled to Haiti to build a school and that when his mother adopted 4 at risk children from the community and he had helped with their childcare.
And he stated that the South Minneapolis native was no flight risk and had never lived any further than 10miles from the place of his birth.
Derek Chauvin, who was jailed Friday on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, was newly charged with second-degree murder (left). Tou Thao (right) charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter
J.A. Kueng (left) and Thomas Lane (right) were also charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter
Lane was the last of the three to take his place to the left of the judge in a stand partitioned off from the court by plastic and his attorney made an impassioned plea for a far lesser sum to be set.
His attorney referred to him as ‘a good guy,’ and pointed to Lane’s inexperience – he had been four days on the job when Floyd died – and Chauvin’s status as a 20-year veteran.
He reminded the judge that his client had asked repeatedly, ‘Shall we roll him?’ and it was his client and his alone who got into the ambulance and attempted to resuscitate Floyd with CPR.
He requested an interim hearing and Judge Bartolomie noted that he was setting bail as he had done for Thao and Kueng; $1million unconditional and $750,000 with conditions including that he have no contact with Floyd’s family.
George Floyd (pictured) said ‘I can’t breathe’ when Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes
However, in Lane’s case that may be reviewed pending a hearing regarding the strength of his case.
In setting the bail Bartolomie said that he had ‘struggled to find any comparisons’ for the cases but appeared convinced by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank’s assertion that the terrible nature of the crime and the high profile rendered each defendant a high flight risk.
If convicted as charged the men face up to 40 years in prison on the first count, with the second carrying a sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of $20,000.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney General Mike Freeman announced the latest charges in a press conference Wednesday during which a further charge of Second-Degree murder was also added to the charge sheet of the already charged Chauvin, 44.
Speaking at Wednesday’s press conference Ellison said of the additional charge: ‘I believe that evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second-degree murder. We’ve consulted with each other and we agree.’
He added, ‘I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community and our state,’ Attorney General Ellison said. ‘We’re working together on this case with only one goal: justice for George Floyd. I want to thank, first, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who has been a true partner in this matter at every step of the way. His experience and insight have been invaluable and will continue to be counted on by the team.’
The actions of all three officers appearing in Hennepin County District Court today have been set down in a detailed Statement of Probable Cause pieced together from surveillance footage, interviews with witnesses and the officer’s own body cameras.
Officers Lane and Kueng were the first to arrive at the scene at 8.08pm, May 25 when someone made a 911 call reporting a man for buying merchandise from Cup Foods with a counterfeit $20.
Floyd was parked in a car just around the corner when the officers arrived. There were three people in the car, with Floyd in the driver’s seat. As Lane began speaking with Floyd through his open window he pulled his gun and asked Floyd to show him his hands.
Floyd placed his hands on the steering wheel and Lane reholstered his gun.
National Guard troops outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on Thursday while the three officers’ hearing took place inside
There was an enormous police presence at the courthouse. Fencing was put up and the windows were boarded up
Dozens of cops were there along with the National Guard to protect the courthouse while the hearing got underway
The footage goes onto show Floyd complying with all the officers’ requests – getting out of the car, sitting on the ground, being handcuffed.
The probable cause statement notes that as he sat on the ground, ‘Floyd said, ‘Thank you man,’ and was calm.’
It was only when Lane stood Floyd up and tried to get him into the squad car that the man ‘stiffened’ and fell to the ground.
The statement said, ‘Mr Floyd told the officers that he was not resisting but did not want to get in the back seat and was claustrophobic.’
Chauvin and Thao arrived in separate squad cars at this point and all four officers began trying to push Floyd into the car as he, ‘repeatedly said that he could not breathe.’
At 8.19pm Chauvin pulled Floyd from the car and he went to the ground face down. Keung had his back, Lane held his legs, Chauvin placed his knee on Floyds neck in an act that has reverberated around the world.
Floyd said, ‘I’m about to die,’ he repeatedly called for his ‘mama’ and said he could not breathe but they held their positions as Chauvin pressed the life out of the 46-year-old father of two.
After five minutes Floyd stopped moving, after six he fell silent and stopped breathing. Lane said he ‘wanted to roll him on his side.’ Kueng check his wrist and found no pulsed.
Still they held their positions. Two minutes later at 8.27pm Chauvin finally relinquished his pressure. By then he was holding down a dead man.
Chauvin, who has not made bail posted at $500,000 is currently being held in Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights – a maximum security facility.
He was moved from Hennepin County Jail on the request of Sheriff David Hutchinson who said the move was made due to coronavirus concerns as well as safety fears because they anticipated a high number of people being booked into the jail due to the violence and looting sparked by the killing.
He is due to have his first court appearance on Monday June 8 after an earlier date was pushed as protests escalated.
The three other officers will next appear at a June 29 hearing.
All four cops were fired when the video surfaced last week but the three others were not charged initially, to the dismay of Floyd and protesters around the world who say they complicit because they did nothing to prevent Floyd’s death.
The case was taken out of the hands of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and handed over to Minnesota AG Keith Ellison earlier this week after a groundswell of outrage over how the case had been handled to date.
Protesters during a George Floyd Memorial demonstration at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn on Thursday
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is BOOED off the stage by 5,000-strong crowd of peaceful protesters at George Floyd memorial in Brooklyn – as the slain man’s brother addresses the crowd saying ‘power to the people
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was widely booed on Thursday after he took the stage at a memorial service for George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police last week has prompted ongoing protests across the country.
Hundreds of mourners jeered over the embattled mayor’s brief remarks at the Brooklyn service following a night in which videos circulating on social media showed NYPD officers using batons on peaceful demonstrators.
De Blasio was introduced by activist and preacher Kevin McCall, who was forced to ask the crowd for ‘respect’ as the mayor and his wife Chirlane approached the podium.
Demonstrators, among the several thousand in attendance, immediately booed de Blasio as he walked across the stage and chanted: ‘De Blasio go home!’ and ‘Vote them out!’
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who some in the crowd had booed when he arrived on stage, called on white people to do more to understand African-American communities
‘You are not alone,’ the large crowd chanted before an emotional Terrence Floyd, wearing a mask and a T-shirt bearing his brother’s likeness, thanked them for their support at the Cadman Plaza Park on Thursday
The mayor, who has come under fire from both residents and public officials, is facing criticism for supporting the police’s tactics but also for not preventing the looting of businesses that rocked Manhattan earlier this week.
De Blasio kept his speech short, urging protesters that Floyd’s death should not be in vain.
‘We have too much to change in this city and this country,’ he said. ‘We will not be about words in this city; we will be about change.’
‘For all of us who have not walked a mile in the shoes of the black community, or communities of color, all of us who know white privilege, we need to do more, because we don’t even fully recognize the daily pain that the racism in this society causes,’ he added.
As de Blasio struggled to be heard, many were seen turning their backs to him as he talked. Several others in attendance could be heard shouting for him to resign.
An estimated 10,000 people gathered in Brooklyn to pay their respects for Floyd and fight against police brutality on Thursday
Terrence Floyd (center) led protesters across the Brooklyn Bridge following a memorial service for his brother George
Protests for George Floyd are still going strong across the city and the nation more than a week after his death by cops
An estimated 10,000 people gathered for the vigil at Cadman Plaza Park earlier in support of Floyd and his family, including brother Terrence, who thanked the crowd for their demonstrations.
‘You are not alone,’ the large crowd chanted before an emotional Terrence Floyd, wearing a mask and a T-shirt bearing his brother’s likeness, thanked them for their support.
‘I thank God for you all showing love to my brother,’ he said.
Floyd, however, spoke out against the violence and chaos that has engulfed the city and the nation in the wake of George’s death, saying his brother was about peace.
‘I’m proud of the protests but I’m not proud of the destruction. My brother wasn’t about that. The Floyds are a God-fearing family,’ he said.
‘Power to the people, all of us,’ he added.
Following the service in Brooklyn, thousands of protesters filed out of Cadman Plaza to march across the Brooklyn Bridge and headed for Foley Square in downtown Manhattan for a seventh night of peaceful demonstrations against police brutality.
Demonstrators had also gathered in Cadman Plaza on Wednesday night, where videos were taken of officers using batons and pepper spray on nonviolent protesters who remained after the 8pm curfew.
As protests carried on Thursday evening, hundreds of people had filled Foley Square, located near the NYPD Headquarters, about an hour before the city’s curfew came into effect and were met with a heavy police presence.
Further demonstrations took place at Gracie Mansion, de Blasio’s mayoral residence in the Upper East Side, and in Harlem, where protesters dressed formally in black as they marched down the streets.
Minnesota AG says he hasn’t ruled out FIRST degree murder charges Derek Chauvin
The Minnesota Attorney General said on Thursday he has not ruled out bringing first degree murder charges against Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, and that he would prosecute ‘anything the facts allow’.
Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder, third degree murder and third degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25 while arresting for him for allegedly using a fake $20 bill.
Three other officers who helped Chauvin subdue Floyd – Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged with aiding and abetting murder on Wednesday afternoon after a groundswell of outrage around the world, demanding that they be brought to justice.
All four now face 40 years prison terms if convicted. Floyd’s family want to see Chauvin’s charge increased to first degree murder that could put him away for life.
To prosecute second degree unintentional homicide, which is what Chauvin is currently charged with, the prosecutors must convince a jury he intended to harm Floyd, but not that he necessarily intended to kill him.
To prosecute first degree murder charges, they must prove he planned to kill him.
In an appearance on Good Morning America on Thursday morning, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison – who was given the case by the governor on Monday after public faith in local prosecutors dwindled – said it was not out of the question.
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison said on Thursday morning that he had not yet ruled out first degree murder charges against Derek Chauvin, the cop who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes
‘We will charge anything that the facts and the law allow. We are not showing fear or favor to any person. If the facts show premeditation and deliberation and we can present that in front of a jury in good faith, we will present that,’ he said.
Asked whether or not he currently had the evidence to bring a first degree murder charge against Chauvin, he said: ‘I wouldn’t want to comment on what I have or don’t have – we’ve charged the highest ethical charge that we can.’
He dismissed the notion that Floyd may have died for any other reason than that the officer was kneeling on his neck and starving him of oxygen and said the fact that Floyd had fentanyl in his system – something his autopsy revealed – was irrelevant.
‘You take your victim as you find them. You can’t say, “the person that I victimized was not in the perfect picture of health so it’s their fault that they died at my hands.”
‘You take your victim as you find them.
‘Not only is that a fact that should not weigh but you never know, those kind of things that some defense attorneys are going to try to turn to… we don’t think it matters in terms of proximate cause.
‘Both the medical examiner reports we’ve seen indicate homicide – death at the hands of another – that is what we think matters most,’ he said.
He also said his office was confident in bringing charges against the other three cops because the evidence – namely cell phone footage of the incident – shows that they helped Chauvin by subduing Floyd and also did nothing when he cried out for breath.
‘If you look at the tape, you can see who is sitting where, and see the assistance that was giving, meaningful and important assistance to what Chauvin was doing.
‘We can also see what was not done. Even despite the pleas and the cries there was no assistance rendered. We believe they were culpable, they assisted in the commission of this offense – this is why we charged them.’
Ellison said that while the prosecution was an important step in the pursuit of justice, it would not address the nation’s pain and outrage over police brutality and racial inequality.
‘This is a social change moment and a prosecution is essential to achieving that justice but it is not to achieve all the justice and address all the hurt and pain that people have experienced.
Chauvin is seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck and the three other cops are seen right beside him in Minneapolis last Monday
‘Even beyond policing, some of these problems have to do with inadequate housing, poverty and racist attitudes that Americans share that are not even in the police department. All that work needs to be done and now is a good time to do it,’ he said.
Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, said on Wednesday that the charges were a ‘bittersweet moment’ for the family.
In an interview with Today on Thursday, he reiterated that they want to see Chauvin prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
‘We believe he had intent based on the police body cam audio when the one officer said ‘he has no pulse, maybe we should turn him on his side?’.
‘Officer Chauvin said, “No. We’ll keep him in this position and stand on his neck for three more minutes while he was unconscious,”‘ Crump said.