Attorney's Office Later Clarifies Freeman's 'Other Evidence' Comments

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says his office is working on the George Floyd investigation as quickly as possible, but that it will take some time.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Freeman called the fatal arrest of George Floyd Monday a “senseless death” and that his heart is with the family of Floyd.

Freeman added that his office leads the nation in transparency in these types of cases, and was one of the few offices to successfully convict officers for unreasonable use of deadly force.

Freeman said, however, it will take time to complete the case.

“We’re going to investigate [Floyd’s death] as expeditiously, as thoroughly and completely as justice demands,” Freeman said. “Sometimes, that takes a little time and we ask people to be patient. We have to do this right.”

When asked if he’d comment on the evidence in the investigation, namely the bystander’s video, Freeman said it’s a violation of his ethics.

“I will say this, that this video is graphic, and horrific and terrible, and no person should do that,” he said.

Freeman said that it’s his job to determine if the officer violated a criminal statute.

“And there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge. We need to weigh through all of that evidence to come through with a meaningful determination, and we are doing the best of our ability, ” he said.

The attorney’s office later issued a clarification to his aforementioned comment, saying that his comment on “other evidence” is being misinterpreted.

“To clarify, County Attorney Freeman was saying that it is critical to review all the evidence because at the time of trial, invariably, all that information will be used,” the attorney’s office said. “Evidence not favorable to our case needs to be carefully examined to understand the full picture of what actually happened.”

The attorney’s office says the review of evidence happens in every case.

“This statement does not indicate in any way the horror that we all feel when viewing the video. As in any case, it is simply a matter of adequately preparing for trial,” the attorney’s office said.

Also at the press conference was U.S. Attorney Erica Macdonald, who said that the Department of Justice has made the investigation a top priority.

According to Macdonald, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr are closely monitoring the investigation.

Earlier Thursday, Macdonald and FBI Special Agent In Charge Rainer Drolshagen released a joint statement Thursday morning concerning the George Floyd investigation.

According to Macdonald and Drolshagen, a “robust criminal investigation” is being conducted into the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s May 25 death. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of Minnesota, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office are involved.

Related: Click here for the latest on protests, riots and George Floyd investigation.

“The Department of Justice has made the investigation a top priority and has assigned experienced prosecutors and FBI criminal investigators to the matter,” the statement said.

The federal investigation will be determining if the actions of the former Minneapolis police officers violated federal law.

“It is a violation of federal law for an individual acting under color of law to willfully deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States,” the statement said.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is now calling for the cooperation from all witnesses who believe they have relevant information. The DOJ is urging calm while investigators work to gather facts.

When the FBI investigation is finished, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will determine if federal criminal charges are supported by the evidence.

“If it is determined that there has been a violation of federal law, criminal charges will be sought,” the statement said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI (1-800-225-5324).

Cellphone video of Floyd’s arrest showed an officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, until he lost consciousness and was loaded onto a stretcher. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

The video circulated widely on social media, sparking protests in Minneapolis and cities across the country.

On Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for the officer who had his need on Floyd’s neck to be criminally charged.

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