After a week of protests over the shocking death of George Floyd, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that all four officers involved in the fatal arrest will face charges. Here’s what you need to know.
“We’re here today because George Floyd is not here. He should be here. He should be alive, but he’s not,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on June 3 when announcing that all four officers in George Floyd’s death would face charges. Initially, only Derek Chauvin, 44, — the now-fired Minneapolis Police Department officer who knelt on the back of George’s neck during the fatal arrest – faced third-degree murder charges. Ellison announced that officers Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, would be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Ellison also said that he will be bumping up charges against Derek to murder in the second-degree, and second-degree manslaughter. “I strongly believe that these developments are in the interests of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community, and our state.” Attorney General Ellison will oversee the prosecution of these officers, so here’s the scoop on this former Democratic congressman.
1. He’s a Detroit native. Keith Maurice Ellison, 56, was raised in Detroit, Michigan by his parents – a psychiatrist and a social worker. He is the third of five sons (four of which grew up to be lawyers, while the other became a doctor.) He graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990, per his official bio. After graduating, he worked three years as a law firm, where he specialized in civil rights, employment, and criminal defense law.
2. He served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2019. Keith is a former Congressman. After Martin Olav Sabo, a Democrat who was elected to the House in 1978 (and was re-elected thirteen times), announced he was stepping down, Ellison stepped up. Keith was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2002 (and re-elected in 2004.) He decided to run for Sabo’s seat. He won the primary, defeating even Mike Erlandson, who Sabo had endorsed. Ellison would go on to win the seat with 56% of the vote. He served as the Representative from Minnesota’s 5th congressional district until he announced he would not seek reelection in 2018. He served his term until 2019, and Ilhan Omar was elected as his replacement.
3. He has made history. Even though Islam is a religion that’s centuries old, it took until 2006 for America to send a Muslim to Congress. Though he was raised Catholic, Keith converted to Islam when he was 19. His victory over Republican Alan Fine made him the first-ever Muslim the House of Representatives, per NBC News.
Keith stepped away from Congress so he could run for Attorney General in Minnesota. He defeated Republican Doug Wardlow in the 2018 general election by more than 100,00 votes, according to the Washington Post. This made him the first Muslim person to be elected to a statewide office in America, and the first African-American elected to a statewide office in Minnesota.
He was accused of misconduct, but the claims “could not be sustained.” During the campaign for Attorney General, Karen Monahan, an ex-girlfriend of Keith’s, accused him of dragging her off a bed by her feet while screaming obscenities at her. She claimed she had footage of the incident. Keith denied the allegations. The state’s Democratic party launched an investigation, and according to NBC News, a draft of the report noted that her “shifting rationale for refusing to produce the video footage, including that it was lost, was on a USB drive in storage and that it would be too embarrassing and traumatic to release it.” Because of this refusal to produce the evidence, the case was dropped.
One of his children is following him into the family business. Keith was married to his former wife, Kim, for more than 20 years before they filed for legal separation in 2010. They have four children together, including Jeremiah Ellison. He was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2017, per CBS News.