Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison warned on Monday to not expect a swift conviction of George Floyd’s alleged killer.
Ellison appeared on NBC’s “Today” and said that successfully prosecuting police officers for alleged abuses is difficult no matter how much evidence one has. In the case of Floyd, Ellison said, protesters should be aware that this case may drag out over a long period of time, and they should have the patience to let the justice system work.
“I’m not really commenting on evidence at all. What I’m really saying is, you know, it’s hard to convict the police even when the criminal wrongdoing appears to be in front of your eyes, and so it takes preparation, it takes planning, it takes time,” Ellison said. “That’s what I am trying to prepare people for.”
“I just want to tell everybody if they think there is going to be some conviction by this weekend, that’s just not true,” Ellison added. “I can assure them their trust in me is legitimate, but I ask them to give me the space that we need to do a prosecution, conviction, and investigation which is going to stick.”
Ellison took the lead in the case against 44-year-old Derek Chauvin on Sunday at the request of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
“This decision is one that I feel takes us in that direction and the step to start getting the justice for George Floyd,” Walz said at the time, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune. “When I spoke to the Floyd family they were very clear: They wanted the system to work for them. They wanted to believe that there was trust and they wanted to feel like the facts would be heard and justice would be served.”
Ellison told “Today” he agreed to take on the case because “we need the resources of the whole state to do an effective, fair, thorough investigation and prosecution.”
Police arrested Chauvin on Friday and charged him with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Large protests erupted in Minneapolis after videos began circulating online showing Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd was being arrested. Chauvin and three other officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department after the incident. Chauvin is the only one yet to be charged.
A criminal complaint says that Chauvin used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground for nine minutes while Floyd begged for relief saying he could not breathe. Floyd was unresponsive for about three minutes. An ambulance took him to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The protests over Floyd’s death have devolved into riots around the country. City mayors and state governors have activated the National Guard to help control rampant looting that has broken out in cities such as Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
President Trump addressed the riots Monday, empathizing with protesters over Floyd’s death. He also said that if cities and states failed to control the widespread rioting and looting, he would use military force to curb the violence.
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