Former Minneapolis cop was hit with an upgraded murder charge for kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, and three other ex-cops were charged as accomplices in the racially charged slaying, according to a report Wednesday.
Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, while Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were charged with aiding and abetting murder, CNN said, citing court documents filed Wednesday afternoon.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the three alleged accomplices, CNN said.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was expected to discuss the legal action at a press conference later in the day.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) tweeted confirmation of an earlier news report predicting the legal action, which she called “another important step for justice.”
Under Minnesota law, the charge against Chauvin covers unintentional deaths caused “while committing or attempting to commit a felony.”
In Chauvin’s case, that felony is third-degree assault, according to court papers.
George Floyd and Derek Chauvin
If convicted as charged, the four defendants would each face up to 40 years in prison.
The dramatic development in the case came four days after Gov. Tim Walz put Ellison in charge of the case, replacing Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
On Thursday, Freeman had said he wouldn’t “rush” to file charges in Floyd’s death, which came after Chauvin, who is white, was recorded kneeling for nearly nine minutes on the neck of Floyd, who was black.
At the time, Freeman called the cellphone video “graphic, and horrific, and terrible” but added that “there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.”
But in the wake of violent protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere around the country on Thursday night, Freeman reversed course on Friday and charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter.