Minnesota Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s chances of becoming presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate tanked overnight amid reports that Klobuchar “declined to prosecute multiple officers cited for excessive force,” including the Minneapolis police officer who was filmed with his knee on George Floyd’s neck, a claim Klobuchar has since refuted.
That officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested Friday morning in connection with Floyd’s death.
Klobuchar served as the Hennepin County attorney, which covers Minneapolis, for eight years. Now, her prosecutorial record is under scrutiny amid reports that Chauvin was one of several officers she passed on making a decision to prosecute, even after Chauvin was involved in the shooting death “of a man who had stabbed other people before attacking police.”
“Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin saw at least 10 conduct complaints during his 19-year tenure before he was fired Tuesday, according to a database that documents complaints against police,” said The Week Thursday in a report citing The Guardian, which first pored over the database.
“Klobuchar did not prosecute Chauvin and other officers involved in the first death, which occurred in October 2006 while she was running for Senate,” the outlet continued. “The case was under investigation when Klobuchar took office in the Senate in January 2007, and later went to a grand jury, which declined to charge the officers.”
Klobuchar refuted the claim that she “declined” to prosecute Chauvin’s case during an interview with MSNBC Friday, but said that she regrets not taking a more aggressive role in officer-involved shootings as a prosecutor.
“I never declined [Chauvin’s] case,” she said. “It was handled and sent to the grand jury. When I was county attorney, cases we had involving officer-involved shootings went to a grand jury. I think that was wrong, now. It would have been much better if I took responsibility and looked at cases and made a decision myself.”
Her explanation may come just a little too late to save her chances of becoming vice president. Already this week, racial justice advocates were voicing complaints about Klobuchar, suggesting that Klobuchar, as a prosecutor, had a “tough-on-crime” approach that disproportionately targeted minorities for small-time offenses.
Now, those complaints are only amplified, particularly after, as the Washington Post notes, voters are now discovering that Klobuchar “declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police.”
Although there is likely no polling on the issue as of yet, Klobuchar’s Vegas odds (via US Bookies) took a hit overnight. She is now at 7-to-1 odds of becoming Biden’s running mate, well behind Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), with 6-to-5 odds, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), with 5-to-1 odds.
Minneapolis is currently engulfed in protests, many of which have turned violent, in response to Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police — a death clearly captured on a video that went viral earlier this week. Chauvin, the officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd struggles and repeatedly tells the officer he cannot breathe, was arrested Friday morning, four days after the incident and after days of demonstrations.
This article has been revised for clarity and emphasis.
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