Attorney General William Barr announced Friday that the Department of Justice has launched an independent investigation, separate from the one being conducted by the state of Minnesota, into the death of George Floyd.
“The video images of the incident that ended with the death of Mr. Floyd, while in custody of Minneapolis police officers, were harrowing to watch and deeply disturbing,” Barr said in a statement.
The DOJ’s investigation, which the FBI is part of, will determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated in the case.
“Both state and federal officers are working diligently and collaboratively to ensure that any available evidence relevant to these decisions is obtained as quickly as possible,” Barr said.
“Under our system, charging decisions must be, and will be, based on the law and facts. This process is proceeding quickly.”
The attorney general added that he was “confident justice will be served.”
President Donald Trump had also requested federal authorities to start an investigation into the “tragic death in Minnesota.”
“At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd,” Trump tweeted.
“I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”
The DOJ’s announcement came on the same day that Derek Chauvin, the former Minnesota police officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin was fired after 19 years on the police force immediately following the incident, along with three other officers who stood by idly.
“This is by far the fastest that we’ve ever charged a police officer,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a media conference announcing the arrest.
Floyd’s death has spawned protests, and in many cases riots, around the country, not just in Minneapolis where Floyd died while in custody.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a plea for calm Friday to rioters who have thrown the city of Minneapolis into chaos this week.
“I will not patronize you as a white man without living those lived experiences,” the Democratic governor said, “but I am asking you to help us.”
“Help us use humane ways to get the streets to a place where we can restore the justice so that those that are expressing rage and anger and demanding justice are heard, not those who throw fire bombs into businesses.”