ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - In his first public comments about the George Floyd case, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he was made "physically ill" by watching video showing a Minneapolis police officer holding Floyd down with a knee in his neck.
But neither Walz nor Attorney General Keith Ellison followed Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's call for immediate criminal charges against the officer, Derek Chauvin. Instead, the two state officials urged people to let two investigations into Floyd's death play out.
"I too share that urge of a primal scream of watching humanity getting erased in front of you," Walz told reporters at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. "I want to be incredibly careful that anything I say from this office does not jeopardize a fair journey towards justice."
Walz said he’s glad Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo decided to fire the four responding officers, including Chauvin. The first-term Democratic governor said he talked with Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who promised "swift action" on a charging decision once the state's investigation is finished.
As Walz and Ellison spoke, police clashed with protesters for a second straight day outside the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct on the city's south side. The night before, protesters broke into a secure parking lot and smashed windows of squad cars and the precinct building itself. Police responded with tear gas and marking rounds.
Ellison attempted to calm the tension between police and protesters.
"I would urge law enforcement to express restraint," Ellison said. "I would also urge protesters to remember they are there to lift up the memory and to get justice for Mr. Floyd."
Two investigations are underway: the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether the officers violated Floyd's civil rights, while the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is conducting the criminal investigation.
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said the BCA's investigation will take “weeks rather than months.” He did not express a willingness to release body camera video before the investigation if over.
"There has been concern about releasing body cam video as it may prejudice public and prejudice a jury. I would have to consult with the Hennepin County Attorney's office before I did that," he said.
Freeman has not said whether he would allow the release of the video before making a charging decision.
Harrington said the BCA has not gotten Floyd's autopsy from the medical examiner, something he called a "crucial piece" of evidence. Witnesses or people with video and information should come forward to the BCA, Harrington said.
Ellison said he had trust that the FBI, under Attorney General William Barr, would conduct a fair investigation of the civil rights portion of the case. But Ellison said he'd "be watching" to ensure fairness.