The Three Cops Who Watched George Floyd Die Have Been Charged

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The three former Minneapolis police officers who stood by as Derek Chauvin held his knee to George Floyd’s neck have been charged with aiding and abetting murder, and the charge against Chauvin has been elevated to second-degree murder, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday.

“We’re here today because George Floyd is not here,” Ellison, who became the lead prosecutor in Chauvin’s murder case two days ago, said. “He should be alive, but he’s not.”

All four officers present at the time of Floyd’s death were fired from their positions on May 26. Five days ago, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years and entails “perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life,” according to Minnesota law. Minnesota is one of only three states to divide murder into three separate charges.

Second-degree murder, Ellison explained, does not require the intention to cause the death of a human being, but encompasses an unintentional killing that occurs while knowingly committing another felony. “We would contend that George Floyd was assaulted, and so that would be the underlying felony,” he said. “I believe the evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second-degree murder.”

“I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, his community, and our state,” he said.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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