Three more former police officers who were involved in the arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis have been charged in connection to his death, and the officer who pressed a knee to Floyd’s neck faces a new charge of second-degree murder, according to court documents.
The three additional officers — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng — have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All four officers have been fired.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death last week. Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, including two minutes in which Floyd was unresponsive, according to prosecutors. The bail for each officer has been set at $1 million.
“I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community and our state,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said when announcing the new charges Wednesday.
Floyd’s death has ignited anti-police brutality protests across the nation. Charges against the three other officers on the scene have been a key demand of demonstrators in Minneapolis and elsewhere. Ellison said the sweeping protests across the country did not play a factor in the decision to charge the former officers.
“I did not allow public pressure to impact our decision-making process,” he said. “We made these decisions based on the facts that we have gathered since this matter occurred and made the charges based on the law that we think applies.”
On May 25, around 8:08 p.m., the officers encountered Floyd while responding to a 911 call from a store clerk, who said Floyd tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes, according to prosecutors.
While Floyd was in his car, Lane pulled his gun out and pointed it at Floyd’s open window and directed Floyd to show his hands, according to a new criminal complaint filed Wednesday. Lane then holstered his weapon when Floyd put his hands on the wheel.
Lane ordered Floyd out of the car and handcuffed him. A few minutes later, at 8:14 p.m., the officers ordered Floyd into their squad car. He refused, saying he was claustrophobic.
Chauvin and Thao then arrived in a different squad car, the complaint said. With the four officers around him, Floyd indicated he was having trouble breathing before being brought to the ground at 8:19 p.m.
Keung held Floyd’s back down, and Lane held his legs still. Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, nearly three minutes of which Floyd was non-responsive, according to the charging documents.
In the early minutes, Floyd could be heard repeating pleas, “I can’t breathe,” “Mama” and “please.” The officers said, “You are talking fine,” court papers said.
At one point, Lane asked if they should roll Floyd on his side, to which Chauvin replied, “No, staying put where we got him.”
Floyd showed “slight movements,” which slowed until 8:24 p.m. when he stopped moving altogether, prosecutors said. Video shows Floyd appearing to stop breathing at 8:25 p.m.
Kueng said he couldn’t find a pulse after checking Floyd’s right wrist, yet none of the officers moved from their positions, prosecutors said. Chauvin removed his knee nearly two minutes later.