George Floyd: Evidence 'does not support criminal charge' against officers involved in death, say prosecutors
The brutal death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25, at the hand of the police has left the US shell-shocked. Floyd was pinned to the ground by officer Derek Chauvin, who then forced his knee on his neck, leaving the man gasping for breath and eventually dying. The incident was caught on camera and it came just days after the arrest of a white father-son duo for shooting a young black man in Brunswick, Georgia, in February when he was out for jogging. The death of Floyd saw protests outbreaking throughout the country with those in Minneapolis turning violent. Facing pressure to take action in the case, prosecutors appeared before the media on Thursday, May 28, in the wake of the continued riots in Minneapolis but said there is “evidence that does not support criminal charge” in the case that sees four cops getting accused of murdering Floyd.
They said the police can use a “certain amount of force -- but not excessive." Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman condemned the action of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who has now been fired, as “horrific and terrible” but also added that it was still to be ascertained whether he used “excessive” force when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes till he passed out and subsequently died. “That video is graphic and horrific and terrible and no person should do that,” Freeman said, adding, “But my job in the end is to prove he violated a criminal statute - but there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge. We need to wade through all of that evidence and come to a meaningful decision and we are doing that to the best of our ability.”
Freeman's office says attorney misspoke about 'other evidence'
However, after about an hour and half, Freeman’s office released a statement and told CNN that the attorney misspoke about the “other evidence”. “Evidence not favorable to our case needs to be carefully examined to understand the full picture of what actually happened,” the statement read. “This happens in every case”. During the press conference, federal prosecutor Erica MacDonald told the media that she hoped to brief on a new development in the case but it could not be done at this point. Both the legal representatives saw the investigation required more time and appealed to people to remain calm and patient until the probe results came out.
“I am pleading with individuals to remain calm and let us conduct this investigation,” she said, adding, “Our highest priority is that justice will be served.” Freeman echoed her thoughts and said the matter needed to be put straight. MacDonald also supported Freeman's words saying a "police officer in the nature of the job has within their scope of duty the ability to use the right amount of force but not excessive force". "That's what we're looking at - the issue of excessive force," she added. The Minneapolis Police Department fired all the four officers who were involved in Floyd’s deadly arrest. The matter is being probed by federal, state, and local authorities.
Freeman, who told CNN after the press conference that all the four cops invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, compared the case to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Carlos Gray Junior in Baltimore in April 2015, where the black individual received a spinal cord injury while being transported in a police van and went in a coma to die after a few days. Six Baltimore police officers were suspended with pay but all charges were dropped against them.