World

Civil rights probe over Floyd death

By AAP Newswire

The state of Minnesota has launched a civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd with an officer 's knee pressed into his neck for several minutes, in the hope of forcing widespread change.

Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced the filing of the formal complaint on Tuesday afternoon.

The governor and Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said they hope to reach agreement with the city to identify short-term ways to address the police department's history of racial discrimination, and use the investigation to find long-term solutions for systemic change.

Widely seen bystander video showing Floyd's death has sparked protests around the world.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers involved were fired but have not been charged.

"We know that deeply seated issues exist," the governor said. "And the reason I know it is we saw the casual nature of the erasing of George Floyd's life and humanity. We also know by the reaction of the community. They expected nothing to happen, and the reason is because nothing did happen for so many times."

Walz said the investigation into the police department's policies, procedures and practices over the past 10 years will determine if the force has engaged in systemic discrimination toward people of colour, and root it out.

Mayor Jacob Frey said the state's intervention will help break what he called a stalemate on reform.

"For years in Minneapolis, police chiefs and elected officials committed to change have been thwarted by police union protections and laws that severely limit accountability among police departments," Frey said in a statement. "I welcome today's announcement because breaking through those persistent barriers, shifting the culture of policing, and addressing systemic racism will require all of us working hand in hand."

The FBI is also investigating whether police willfully deprived Floyd of his civil rights.