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Minnesota's Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday announced that new criminal charges were leveled against the four sacked police officers, who were involved in the death of an unarmed African-American George Floyd on May 25.
Earlier, Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng were sacked amidst the nation-wide protests against the custodial killing of Floyd.
Charge against Derek, who knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, has been upgraded with second-degree murder (unpremeditated intentional killing of another), in addition to the third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter that he was initially imposed with.
The other three sacked officers face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, the BBC reported.
The new charge can carry a sentence of up to 40 years, 15 years longer than the maximum sentence for third-degree murder.
This took place after there was massive public outcry about leniency in charges against the officers. The state senator, Amy Klobuchar, tweeted that this was no less than an immediate need for the justice that is required.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin to 2nd degree in George Floyd's murder and also charging other 3 officers. This is another important step for justice.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 3, 2020
Attorney General Ellison also said that bringing justice to society more generally would be slow and difficult work and that Americans did not have to wait for the end of the Floyd case to start that work.
"We need to rewrite the rules for a just society now," he said as quoted.
Floyd's family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said in a statement that this was a significant step forward on the road to justice and the family was gratified that such important action was brought before George Floyd's body was laid to rest, the media organisation reported.
However, Crump later told CNN that the family believed that Derek should be charged with first-degree murder (intent to kill and premeditation and deliberation), and were told that as the investigation is underway, the charges could possibly change further.
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