Attorney General William Barr on Friday announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police this week.
Barr called video of the arrest, which shows then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he lay handcuffed on the ground, “harrowing to watch and deeply disturbing” and pledged that justice will be served in the case.
Floyd’s killing has been nearly universally condemned, and has fueled days of protests in Minneapolis, with demonstrators setting fire to a police precinct in the city and other local businesses while prompting nationwide calls for a reexamination of policing practices.
Barr announced the probe in a statement just minutes after state prosecutors in Minnesota unveiled state charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter against Chauvin, with more indictments possible for Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s death.
“On a separate and parallel track,” the attorney general said that the DOJ and FBI are in the midst of “an independent investigation to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated.”
The announcement also comes days after President Donald Trump said he asked Barr and the Justice Department to investigate Floyd’s death, which he called “very sad and tragic.” The president has declined to say whether he believes the former officers involved in Floyd’s killing should face charges for their roles.
“Under our system, charging decisions must be, and will be, based on the law and facts,” Barr said Friday, adding that state and federal officers are working together to obtain relevant evidence “as quickly as possible” and that the process is “proceeding quickly.”