By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a potential running mate for Joe Biden, is pushing back against reports that she refused years ago to prosecute Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer involved in George Floyd’s death.
“This idea that I somehow declined a case — which has been reported on some news blogs and then sent out on the internet — against this officer is absolutely false. It is a lie,” Klobuchar told MSNBC on Friday afternoon .
“The case was investigated. That investigation continued into a time where I was already sworn into the U.S. Senate. I never declined the case. It was handled and sent to the grand jury by my successor, and he has said that.”
Chauvin, who was arrested Friday in the wake of Floyd’s death and violent protests, was part of a group of officers in 2006 who fired on and killed a man who reportedly aimed a shotgun at police after stabbing his friend and girlfriend. Klobuchar was the top local prosecutor in 2006, then she was sworn in as a U.S. Senator in January 2007. A grand jury declined to indict the officers in October 2007.
“Back when I was the county attorney, the cases that we had involving officer-involved shootings went to a grand jury,” Klobuchar also said. “I think that was wrong now. I think it would have been much better if I took the responsibility and looked at the cases and made the decision myself. But let me make this clear: We did not blow off these cases. We brought them to a grand jury, presented the evidence for a potential criminal prosecution, and the grand jury would come back with a decision.”
There have been three straight nights of protests sparked by anger over the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died while in police custody. Minnesota’s governor has called in the National Guard to try to stem the violence.
Other potential picks for Biden’s vice president include Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Val Demings of Florida. Floyd’s death has put more pressure on Biden to pick a black running mate, said a Hill report on Friday .
Klobuchar pushed back Friday when she was asked on MSNBC about taking herself out of consideration to be the Democratic VP candidate.
“This is Joe Biden’s decision,” she said. “He will make that decision. He will decide who he’s considering.”