Klobuchar accused of not prosecuting officer at center of Floyd’s death despite conduct complaints

Amy Klobuchar, who is being vetted as a possible running mate for Joe Biden is being accused of not prosecuting Derek Chauvin in the past, the officer at the center of George Floyd’s death, despite previous conduct complaints.

Per TheGuardian, Derek Chauvin, who joined the force in 2001, had already been involved in several incidents, according to a database by Minneapolis’ Communities United Against Police Brutality.

Chauvin was one of five officers who were placed on leave after they shot and wounded an indigenous man in 2011, the Daily Beast reported. Later that year, officers had been responding to a domestic violence call, and Chauvin claimed that the man reached for his gun. The man was shot (not by Chauvin, but by a different officer) and wounded. Authorities later determined that the officers had acted “appropriately”.

The second officer, Tou Thao, is a 10-year veteran of the force. He was previously sued by a man who alleged he and two officers used excessive force during an 2014 arrest. The man, who had been walking along with his pregnant girlfriend, was stopped by Thao and another officer. The lawsuit alleged they “punch[ed], kick[ed] and kn[eed]” the man’s “face and body” causing “broken teeth as well as other bruising and trauma”. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

“Seeing that horrific video begs the question: what did the police do internally in response to the 2017 incident?” Seth Levanthal, an attorney in the suit, told the Daily Beast, adding that “what happened back in 2017 was a pretty serious incident” that “made no headlines at all”.

WATCH:

The Week reports George Floyd’s death in police custody is renewing criticism of Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) prosecutorial record.

Before she became a senator and a top contender for former Vice President Joe Biden’s vice presidential spot, Klobuchar spent eight years as the Hennepin County attorney, in charge of prosecution for Minneapolis. And while in that position, Klobuchar declined to prosecute multiple police officers cited for excessive force, and did not prosecute the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck as he protested, The Guardian reports.

Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derick Chauvin saw at least 10 conduct complaints during his 19-year tenure before he was fired Tuesday, according to a database that documents complaints against police. In particular, he was involved in the shooting death of a man who had stabbed other people before attacking police, as well as some other undisclosed complaints. Klobuchar did not prosecute Chauvin and other officers involved for the first death, which occurred in October 2006 while she was running for Senate. The case was under investigation when Klobuchar took office in the Senate in Jan. 2007, and later went to a grand jury, which declined to charge the officers. Chauvin was later placed on leave when he and other officers shot and wounded a Native American man in 2011.

As The Washington Post noted in March, Klobuchar “declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police” as Hennepin County attorney. Instead, she “aggressively prosecuted smaller offenses” that “have been criticized for their disproportionate effect on poor and minority communities,” the Post continues. And as Klobuchar undergoes vetting to become a possible vice presidential candidate, that track record is being scrutinized and criticized once again.

UPDATE – From Marketwatch:

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a potential running mate for Joe Biden, is pushing back against reports that she refused years ago to prosecute Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer involved in George Floyd’s death.

“This idea that I somehow declined a case — which has been reported on some news blogs and then sent out on the internet — against this officer is absolutely false. It is a lie,” Klobuchar told MSNBC on Friday afternoon.

“The case was investigated. That investigation continued into a time where I was already sworn into the U.S. Senate. I never declined the case. It was handled and sent to the grand jury by my successor, and he has said that.”

Chauvin, who was arrested Friday in the wake of Floyd’s death and violent protests, was part of a group of officers in 2006 who fired on and killed a man who reportedly aimed a shotgun at police after stabbing his friend and girlfriend. Klobuchar was the top local prosecutor in 2006, then she was sworn in as a U.S. Senator in January 2007. A grand jury declined to indict the officers in October 2007.

“Back when I was the county attorney, the cases that we had involving officer-involved shootings went to a grand jury,” Klobuchar also said. “I think that was wrong now. I think it would have been much better if I took the responsibility and looked at the cases and made the decision myself. But let me make this clear: We did not blow off these cases. We brought them to a grand jury, presented the evidence for a potential criminal prosecution, and the grand jury would come back with a decision.”