It is three years ago today that George Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. The date coincides with a new memoir written by Minnesota's Attorney General who successfully prosecuted the case against Chauvin.
Keith Ellison still vividly remembers seeing the video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck, watching with millions of others as Floyd's life ended.
“I watched it and I watched it, I don’t know how many times I watched it,” says Ellison. “Then I said to my wife, ‘you gotta see this’. I said there’s a man getting killed right here. She said ‘I don’t want to see that.’ So, different people had different reactions. What I can tell you is, that for me, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
The attorney general said the situation wasn’t new to him and he had prosecuted a case very close to the spot Floyd was killed where a man was shot by Minneapolis Police. Ellison said they lost that case, and it was clear to him it was going to be very difficult to pursue damages against law enforcement.
Ellison told WCCO's Jason DeRusha that his book, “Break the Wheel: Ending the Cycle of Police Violence”, and what was happening at the time in his life. Ellison says he was pondering whether or not to take the case.
“I mean, quite honestly I just lost my mom,” Ellison told DeRusha. “It was March, 2020, she had died from COVID.”
Ellison explains that he knew that she would have wanted him to take the case, and says he wrote the memoir because he wanted to provide a guide for other prosecutors and share the lessons his team learned about the difficulty of convicting police officers.
The question many may have, and one DeRusha asked, is whether Keith Ellison is trying to profit off the death of George Floyd? Ellison says he expects that questions, but the issue of police shootings is too big to ignore.
“This year alone, there have been 363 officer-involved death of in-custody people,” says Ellison. “Now in all fairness, many of those people, the officer acted lawfully, within the law properly. But it still is a large number for just this year. So, this is a problem that happens all the time. It’s important to document it. Make sure to record our learnings. Make sure we don’t lose the things that we have learned and a book is one way to do that.”
Ellison says that when he started looking into prosecuting Chauvin, he turned to other literature and books to learn how other cases were handled.
You can listen to the entire interview with Attorney General Keith Ellison with Jason DeRusha here: