ST. PAUL — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will be joining the case against Derek Chauvin, the white Minneapolis police officer filmed kneeling on 46-year-old George Floyd's neck in the moments leading up to his death, Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday evening, May 31.
The move comes after members of Floyd's family, local elected officials and state lawmakers requested Walz appoint Ellison to lead the case. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman will remain on the case and work with the attorney general moving forward.
Speaking to the press Sunday night, Walz prefaced the announcement with comments on the need to restore faith in the criminal justice system. The governor appears to see Ellison — formerly a U.S. congressional representative for Minnesota — as instrumental in that process, saying he "needs to lead this case."
"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 believe that the facts would be heard, and that justice would be served. And I can tell you in Minnesota, having Keith Ellison as the lead on this case, that will happen," Walz said.
Ellison said he and Freeman already have a working relationship and this his office already coordinates with county-level prosecutors on a frequent basis. He declined to take any questions on charges against Chauvin, 44,which currently include third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Nor did he say if other individuals connected to the case, such as the three officers present with Chauvin at the site of Floyd's death on Monday, May 25, would be charged. All four officers have since been fired.
"We are going to bring to bear all the resources necessary to achieve justice in this case. And that means we won't leave any resources on the sideline," Ellison said.
Floyd, a black man, died Monday evening following a confrontation with the four officers, who were responding to a counterfeiting incident reported by a south Minneapolis convenience store. They located him inside a vehicle matching one described in the initial call to police.
Floyd was transported to the hospital after he was arrested and pinned down last Monday. He later died and a video depicting his last minutes sparked widespread backlash and a call to investigate what happened after police initially called it a medical disorder.
Chauvin is currently being held in the Oak Park Heights state prison, Minnesota Department of Corrections commissioner Paul Schnell said during a late Sunday press appearance, having been moved there from a county facility.
Walz and the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul have decried the circumstances of Floyd's death, going so far as to call it a murder. The Twin Cities area responded to it by organizing widely attended demonstrations, and with destructive riots that cooled over the weekend.
Calls for Ellison to join the case, meanwhile, grow louder and more numerous as the week wore on. Minneapolis city and public school officials wrote an open letter demanding as much, co-signed by officials from neighboring suburbs.
Several Democrat members of the Minnesota House lent their voices as well, saying in a letter earlier this week that for Walz to appoint Ellison would "calm public anger and guarantee a fair process."