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U.S. Attorney Macdonald: 'Our highest priority is that justice will be served'

"The federal investigation will determine whether the actions by the involved former Minneapolis Police Department officers violated federal law."
Credit: KARE

MINNEAPOLIS — United States Attorney Erica Macdonald says they're conducting a "robust and meticulous" criminal investigation into the police-related death of George Floyd.

In a press conference Thursday evening, Macdonald said that the Department of Justice has made the investigation into George Floyd's death a top priority. 

"We have assigned the highest of the high in my office to investigate and look at the case," Macdonald said. "FBI, likewise, has assigned their experienced law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation." She added that President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr are "directly and actively monitoring the investigation."

Macdonald said the investigation will determine whether the former officers violated any federal laws, including civil rights violations.

"It must be proven that the subject took action, or did not take action, when he or she knew that was wrong and chose to do it anyway," Macdonald said. "As with all matters, the investigation in this case will be comprehensive and will be conducted with the highest integrity, as the community would expect."

Macdonald stressed the importance that the investigation must be conducted correctly. 

"It must be done right, and it must be done right the first time ... our highest priority is that justice will be served." Macdonald said.

Rainer Drolshagen, FBI Special Agent in Charge, said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo reached out to him directly to assist in the investigation, and from there Drolshagen reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office, allowing them to open up an investigation in a matter of hours.

"Our role in this investigation is to investigate allegations of willful violations of federal civil rights," Drolshagen said. "The FBI team is following the path of where the facts will lead us. We are conducting a swift, yet meticulous, investigation. In less than 72 hours, much work has been done, but I assure you, there is much more to be accomplished."

Drolshagen called on anyone who witnessed the scene to provide any details they have to help assist the investigation at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office has been flooded with calls, saying they're receiving more than 1,000 a day, but says the investigation will take time. 

"These need to be done right," Freeman said. "Please, give me and give the United States Attorney the time to do this right, and we will bring you justice."

Macdonald said her team is also partnering with the DOJ Civil Rights Division, which has dealt with a number of national civil rights investigations.

President Trump tweeted that he himself asked the FBI and DOJ to open an investigation into Floyd's death, which he called "sad and tragic."

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday called on the Hennepin County Attorney's office to file criminal charges immediately against Derek Chauvin, the officer seen on video with his knee across Floyd's neck. 

DOJ and FBI investigators are requesting cooperation from all witnesses who believe they have relevant information, and are urging calm as facts of the case are gathered "methodically." After the investigation is wrapped up, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will determine whether federal criminal charges are supported by the evidence. 

If the office decides Floyd's death was a violation of federal law, criminal charges will be sought.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324).

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