If so, perhaps Amy Klobuchar should change her name to Amy Quixote. Outrage over the death of George Floyd under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin has ricocheted onto the state’s most popular politician. During the presidential campaign, Klobuchar’s record as Hennepin County DA in relation to police misconduct had already come under fire from the Left, which is why progressives have ramped up their opposition lately to Klobuchar joining the ticket.
Chauvin makes it even more problematic, as an earlier case involving Chauvin’s use of lethal force went through her office just as she was preparing to take her Senate seat. The New York Times notes that Klobuchar may not have had much to do with the decision not to press charges, but she passed on other cases often enough to raise eyebrows now:
With a police force in Minneapolis that has long faced accusations of racism and complaints of abuse, Ms. Klobuchar declined to bring charges against multiple police officers who were involved in shootings during her seven-year tenure. Instead she often opted to send cases to a grand jury, a common practice at the time but one that some law enforcement experts say favors police officers.
In October 2006, Derrick Chauvin, the same officer who knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes as he complained he could not breathe, was one of six officers involved in the shooting of a man who had stabbed multiple people before turning on the police. Ms. Klobuchar, weeks away from being elected to the Senate, was still the prosecutor, but the case wasn’t heard until after she took the oath of office in Washington.
“Senator Klobuchar’s last day in the office here was December 31, 2006, and she had no involvement in the prosecution of this case at all,” said Lacey Severins, a spokeswoman for the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office, which encompasses Minneapolis.
Although she had no role in reviewing Mr. Chauvin’s case in 2006, Ms. Klobuchar’s name was trending online Thursday, with many quick to tie that decision to her long record as a prosecutor that critics viewed as overly friendly to police officers. The searing emotions surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death have reopened old wounds in her relationship with some national and local community activists in Minneapolis.
Klobuchar promised to fight to set that record straight, calling any allegation that she declined to prosecute Chauvin a “bold-faced lie,” and told New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi to “get her facts straight.” Which facts, though?
Asked about what she plans to say today, Amy Klobuchar said, “I will be more than talking about this. I spent the day with my community, which was the right thing to do. But these allegations are a bold faced lie.”
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) May 29, 2020
This morning, Klobuchar’s home-town Star Tribune newspaper did lay out some facts, which make her case for Biden’s running mate a lot more, er … nuanced:
The Floyd case has put the national spotlight back on Klobuchar’s days as a prosecutor, particularly as it became clear Derek Chauvin, the officer involved in Floyd’s death, was involved in the death of another citizen while Klobuchar was prosecutor. Chauvin was one of six officers who fired on and killed Wayne Reyes in 2006 after Reyes reportedly aimed a shotgun at police after stabbing his friend and girlfriend. While the death happened during Klobuchar’s tenure at the helm of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the case did not go to a grand jury until after she left the office and became a senator.
Klobuchar did not criminally charge other police involved in the more than two dozen officer-involved fatalities that occurred during her time as prosecutor. She left those decisions to a grand jury, a practice that was common at the time.
Frankly, this seems like a fairly good defense for Klobuchar. Officer-involved shootings or abuse of authority cases would be more easily swept under the rug if left to prosecutorial discretion. Taking the facts to the Hennepin County grand jury means more sunlight on these cases, not less. Besides, if prosecutors can’t get an indictment in the one-sided grand jury process, what hope would they have in getting a conviction in an adversarial trial process?
And aren’t grand juries still a pretty common practice?
Regardless, Klobuchar apparently still wants to persevere as a potential running mate:
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Friday refused to withdraw her bid to become Joe Biden’s vice president after it emerged that she once failed to prosecute the cop involved in George Floyd’s death while serving as a prosecutor in 2006.
Meh. Klobuchar wouldn’t have made a bad choice under other circumstances, but the only thing she really brings to the ticket is low-profile competence. If Klobuchar gets perceived as incompetent in a very high-profile situation, that advantage evaporates. There are other women Biden can choose for the role.
And how would choosing Klobuchar look after Biden made this video?
— ABC News (@ABC) May 29, 2020
Would Klobuchar “pursue it with every ounce of [her] energy”? Maybe, but that’s not how she’s perceived now. And in the running mate game, perception is everything.