HOUSTON - Just days after taking the lead to prosecute any developments related to the death of Houston native George Floyd, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has upgraded and filed new charges against all four fired Minneapolis police officers.
Derek Chauvin, the former officer caught on video kneeling on Floyd's neck, will face an upgraded charge of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Additionally, three other ex-officers at the scene: Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao will now face charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
During a news conference Wednesday, Ellison announced the new charges and stressed the importance for investigators to be thorough.
"Trying this case will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard," Ellison said.
The upgraded and new charges come just one day after a hometown rally of 60,000 people marched united through the streets of downtown Houston, honoring George Floyd and his family.
Houston rappers Bun B and Trae the Truth organized the peaceful and powerful protest they hoped played a factor in Wednesday’s development.
"I would like to believe that it did offer some help and push things in the right direction," said Bun B.
"Yesterday I believe we did him justice and made him proud and his family proud," said Trae the Truth.
However, the two believe higher charges for the other officers could hold more accountability, citing the video that captured the gruesome exchange.
"It shows three officers restraining the body of George Floyd so there's no aiding and abetting. The second officer is on his chest so that's chest compression," Bun B said.
"The autopsy said that," said Trae the Truth.
Cyril White knew Floyd for more than 25 years, coaching him in basketball at one point. White is now preparing his speech to share at the 46-year-old's funeral in Houston on Tuesday.
"I'm happy to see it moving in this direction. And now we just see what the judicial system does. I think on that platform we definitely need to address the issue at hand which is human equality. The need for some social changes and justice for all. And there's definitely a need to just to give him the proper send-off and to start to establish his legacy," White said.
The Floyd family released a statement through their attorney Ben Crump.
"This is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd. We are deeply gratified we are deeply grateful that Attorney General Keith Ellison took decisive action in this case, arresting and charging all the officers involved in George Floyd's death and upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder.
This is a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd's body was laid to rest. That is a source of peace for George's family in this painful time.
Attorney General Ellison has informed the family that his office will continue to investigate and will upgrade the charges to first-degree murder if the evidence supports it.
These officers knew they could act with impunity, given the Minneapolis Police Department's widespread and prolonged pattern and practice of violating people's constitutional rights.
Therefore, we also demand permanent transparent police accountability at all levels and at all times. We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support by Americans in cities across the country, and we urge them to raise their voices for change in peaceful ways.
Our message to them is: Find constructive and positive ways to keep the focus and pressure on. Don't let up on your demand for change."
According to FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico, both second-degree murder and the felony charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder are punishable for a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison in Minnesota.