Amy Klobuchar's position on 2006 shooting by officer in George Floyd death 'could cost her VP role'

Justin Vallejo
AP

Amy Klobuchar's decision as a Minneapolis prosecutor in 2006 not to bring charges against the police officer filmed kneeling on the neck of George Floyd could cost her the role of vice president, critics have said.

With Joe Biden asking Ms Klobuchar to undergo official vetting to be his running mate in November, the death of Mr Floyd has renewed scrutiny of her record as a district attorney that reportedly brought zero charges against police involved in 40 deaths during her tenure.

One of those officers was Derek Chauvin. Mr Chauvin was one of six police officers who shot and killed Wayne Reyes, who stabbed two people and pulled a shotgun before a car chase in October 2006.

When asked in an interview with MSNBC on Friday if she should withdraw from consideration for the vice-presidential candidate, Ms Klobuchar defended her record and said Mr Biden would make the best decision for the community.

"Joe Biden will decide who he wants in this job. My focus right now has been on my city," Ms Klobuchar said.

"I have not been able to defend myself against attacks about cases that I think were unfair because my focus has been on fairness for George Floyd's memory, and for his family, and for our community to heal."

As Hennepin County Attorney from 1999 to 2007, Ms Klobuchar declined to bring charges against Mr Chauvin or appoint a special prosecutor to the case and instead sent it to a grand jury, which returned a "no-bill" after Ms Klobuchar had left the office and entered the Senate as the representative for Minnesota.

According to a statement from the current Hennepin County DA Mike Freeman, "all prosecutorial decisions were made under the direction of Mike Freeman."

At a press conference on Thursday, Mr Freeman said there was "other evidence that does not support a criminal charge" in the death of Mr Floyd.

Ms Klobuchar's aggressive prosecution and pursuit of excessive sentencing of small offences like vandalism, while declining to bring charges in more than 25 cases in which people were killed in encounters with police, has been the source of criticism from the African American community.

The involvement of Mr Chauvin in the death of Mr Floyd, which has lead to three days of riots in the Twin Cities, has been cited by commentators as the end of Ms Klobuchar's bid for vice president.

Sunny Hostin, co-host of "The View", said that Ms Klobuchar's record made her a non-starter for Mr Biden's vice-presidential pick.

"That is why the black community has said that Amy Klobuchar is a nonstarter for them, because in many respects from 1999 to 2007, she declined to prosecute over two dozen cases involving police killings of unarmed people," Ms Hostin said on Wednesday.


While sending police-involved killings to grand juries was a more common practise during that time, Ms Klobuchar has since said she supports recent decisions by several county attorneys in Minnesota that would lead to increased accountability for prosecutors.

During her presidential bid in 2019, Ms Klobuchar said she wished she had taken more "individual responsibility" in those cases as a way to address her record as a prosecutor to The Washington Post.

In response to Mr Floyd's death, Ms Klobuchar said the case cries out for "action, charges and justice".

Mr Chauvin had been involved in several incidents during his 19-years as a police officer, according to a database by Minneapolis' Communities United Against Police Brutality, reported by The Guardian.

After the 2006 shooting, Mr Chauvin in 2008 shot then 21-year-old Ira Toles after responding to a domestic assault call, according to the Pioneer Press.

In 2011, Mr Chauvin was one of five police officers placed on leave after the non-fatal shooting in which he did not fire a gun, according to reports from the Daily Beast.

Mr Biden has committed to choosing a woman as his vice president, with Ms Klobuchar having been a top contender alongside high-profile Democrats like Stacy Abrams.

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