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MINNEAPOLIS — Nearly one year after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a federal grand jury unsealed a criminal indictment against Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted in his murder, and three additional former officers involved in the case.

Rev. Al Sharpton joined the PIX11 Morning News to discuss the federal charges, the message it sends to police departments across the country and more.

“I clearly think that the message is that now under this Justice Department, police will not be treated above the law. And it sends a signal to them that if you operate in any way that breaks the law, that robs people of their civil rights, we will prosecute you,” Sharpton said. “What was most noteworthy to me about this, was that it has been the custom that if the state charges officers — or individuals for that matter — and they’re successful, usually the feds back up. Even after Chauvin was convicted, they indicted him anyway on federal charges. Which means they really want to send a strong signal that the whole era of police getting a pass is over, if the evidence is there that they were abusive.”

A jury in Minneapolis found Chauvin guilty on April 20 of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Chauvin had pinned the Black man to the pavement with a knee on his neck for nearly 10 minutes during an arrest on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market. 

Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, which was captured on bystander video, sparked worldwide protests, violence and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.