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Former federal prosecutors discuss next steps in George Floyd case

Posted at 2:04 PM, Jun 02, 2020

Minnesota's attorney general, who's now leading the prosecution in George Floyd’s death, says he won't rush the investigation into the four police officers on the scene.

Two former federal prosecutors we spoke with say the arrest and charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter against former officer Derek Chauvin were unusually fast for a case like this.

“The prosecutor has to step back and step away from the maelstrom and turmoil and chaos of the present time,” said Bennett Gershman, a former federal prosecutor and current law professor at Pace University. “Coolly, calmly and independently, objectively look at the proof and it's going to take some more time by the way.”

But former federal prosecutor Mark Osler says this police event is different because of what the videos shows. This will impact the case against the other officers too.

“With Derek Chauvin, you had this image of him directly causing the death,” said Osler, who’s currently a law professor at the University of St. Thomas. “The role of the other three officers in the death is something that is going to require some more investigation. We've had more videos come out that do show the role of those other men and that is definitely going to help the attorney general in evaluating the case.”

Gershman says he doesn't see the three other officers facing homicide charges based on the current evidence we've seen.

Minnesota's attorney general is stressing it's essential the prosecution is viewed as just and fair.

“The problem today is that the case is so inflammatory, and the context is so inflammatory that you wonder whether or not the conduct outside the passions that have been incited by this case influence the prosecutor even unconsciously,” said Gershman.

“What's at the center of this in terms of a societal value is do we treat the police the same way we treat everybody else and that's something that people are going to be watching very carefully,” said Osler.

Osler says he thinks the protests are giving the case more urgency and that's not a bad thing as long as it doesn't drive investigators to make decisions they wouldn't make otherwise.