Chauvin was initially charged with one count of third-degree murder and one count of second-degree manslaughter by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Ellison during the press conference said the difference in the upgraded charge is intention versus the death being accidental.
Chauvin, a white man, was videotaped with his knee pressed upon Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he gasped for air on May 25. Floyd, who had been arrested under the suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill, later died. The three other officers were also caught on tape during the arrest, but they have not faced charges as of yet.
An initial autopsy revealed that Floyd’s death was caused by a combination of being restrained, potential intoxicants in his system and underlying health issues, namely heart disease. A second autopsy was performed, which was authorized by Floyd’s family, and the results showed that Floyd died of asphyxiation.
“Sustained pressure on the right side of Mr. Floyd’s carotid artery impeded blood flow to the brain, and weight on his back impeded his ability to breathe,” read a statement from the independent autopsy results.
Lawyers for Floyd’s family have called for charges against Chauvin to be upgraded to first-degree murder. They have also demanded that the other officers involved face murder charges.
Ben Crump, an Atlanta-based injury lawyer, is representing the Floyd family. He said earlier this week Chauvin should face more severe charges because Floyd repeatedly pleaded for his life, according to CNBC.
“For Chauvin to leave his knee on George’s neck despite warnings and evidence that his life was in danger — and to continue that course for many minutes — demands a first-degree murder charge.”
“For George Floyd, the ambulance was his hearse,” Crump said.
Another lawyer for the Floyd family, Antonio Romanucci, said state prosecutors should hold the other three officers “criminally liable” in Floyd’s death.
“Not only was the knee on George’s neck a cause of his death but so was the weight of the other two police officers on his back, who not only prevented blood flow into his brain but also air flow into his lungs.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo lodged blame on all four officers Sunday, noting the four officers were “complicit” in Floyd’s death.
In a criminal complaint released Friday, Chauvin is accused of keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, with nearly three of those minutes of Floyd being unresponsive.