Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has said that charges against the four officers involved in George Floyd's death won't be filed today, but that his office wants to complete its investigation as "expeditiously as possible."
Freeman was speaking at the FBI Minneapolis headquarters after calls from city leaders and protesters for swift arrests and charges.
His office has been inundated by "many thousands" of calls and emails, urged on by activists and celebrities.
"The main question is what are you going to do about the murder of George Floyd," he said. "We are going to investigate it as expeditiously, thoroughly and completely as justice demands.
"Sometimes that takes a little time, and we ask people to be patient."
While he said that the video of Floyd's arrest is "horrific," he also said "there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge."
Despite him saying exactly that, Freeman has since said that comment was "misinterpreted" and that he was meaning to express that "it is critical to review all the evidence."
Freeman says that his office is familiar with investigating officer-involved deaths, referencing the successful prosecution of Mohamed Noor in the killing of Justine Damond.
It should be noted that Noor wasn't arrested and charged until eight months after Damond's death.
"I assure you that if the person who had committed the act, and I do not condone or respect the act done by the police officer to Mr. Floyd - that was excessive and it was wrong," Freeman said, noting that it's his job to prove if it was criminal.
"I'm not going to rush to justice, I'm going to do this right," Freeman said.
Joining Freeman at the podium was Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans, who is leading the investigation. He said they are looking to conduct a "swift, thorough and unbiased investigation."
Floyd died on Monday evening after he was arrested at Chicago and 38th, with a bystander's video showing one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, placing his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes.
The officers involved in the death of the 46-year-old are as follows:
- Officer Derek Chauvin - 19-year veteran with MPD.
- Officer Thomas Lane - joined MPD as a cadet in March 2020
- Officer Tou Thao – went through academy in '09, laid off, rejoined dept. in 2012.
- Officer J Alexander Kueng
Minneapolis police initially described Floyd's death as resulting from a "medical incident," until it became apparent that there was video showing the circumstances.
They had been called to 38th and Chicago to a report of a forgery in progress, and took Floyd into custody as he was sitting in a vehicle next to the store.
While he was being held down, the video showed Floyd saying "Help" and "I can't breathe" several times, with the officers not letting him up.
First responders who got to the scene said that Floyd was unresponsive and without a pulse in the ambulance. Responders and medical staff tried to revive him for an hour before he was pronounced dead around 9:20 p.m.
A separate civil rights investigation is being conducted by the FBI, which could lead to more charges. The Department of Justice
"Minneapolis, our nation, really the world, has witnessed this incredibly disturbing loss of life," said U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald, who said President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr are "actively monitoring the investigation."
"My heart goes out to George Floyd, my heart goes out to his family, my heart goes out to his friends. My heart goes out to his community. We are grieving and we will continue to grieve."