Transcript: Benjamin Crump on "Face the Nation," May 31, 2020

Floyd family attorney: Officer should be charged with first-degree murder
Floyd family attorney: Officer should be char... 05:19

The following is a transcript of an interview with Benjamin Crump, attorney for the family of George Floyd, that aired Sunday, May 31, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Next up is Benjamin Crump. He is the attorney representing the family of George Floyd. He's in Jacksonville, Florida. Good morning to you. Before we get to this--

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Good morning, MARGARET. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --before we get to the specifics of this case, I want to ask you about what's happening on the ground in Minnesota. You said Friday that the protests should keep going. At this point, has what's happened overshadowed the purpose of these protests?

CRUMP: MARGARET, I'm not a politician. I'm the voice for equal justice for marginalized people in our society. And I proclaim that these riots that are erupting in cities all across America are an outward sign of righteous anger that Americans, especially black Americans, are feeling over the death of George Floyd, but not just George Floyd. He's just the latest tipping point in a string of killings of unarmed black people at the hands, or should I say in his case, the knee of the police and many elected officials have to understand that is not these protesters that started these fires across America. It is police brutality and a racist criminal justice system. And the only thing that can put out these fires are police accountability and equal justice. The Floyd family, nor I, agree with violence. Just like Dr. King, we don't try to justify it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. 

CRUMP: But we know that what is happening is coming from people been unheard far too long and they're just tired. And they are saying that we are Americans, too. We want equal justice. We want the Constitution. We don't want to be policed. And then everybody else is protected and served. We, too, are Americans. That's what you're hearing and seeing all across America--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. I want to ask--

CRUMP: --this day. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me ask you about George Floyd and this particular case. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with manslaughter in the second degree, murder in the third. The implication is that he didn't intend to kill George Floyd. Do you have evidence that this was premeditated?

CRUMP: Well, certainly based on everything that has been presented to us. I've talked with his family ad nauseam because you can imagine after seeing the police have his knee on his neck, not for one minute, not for two minutes, not for three minutes, but for over eight minutes while George pleaded, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, called for his mother. We now have the audio from the police body cam and we hear where one officer says he doesn't have a pulse, maybe we should turn him on his side. But yet, Officer Chauvin says no, we're going to keep him in this position. That's intent, MARGARET. Also, the fact that Officer Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for almost three minutes after he was unconscious.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did the two know each other?

CRUMP: We don't understand how that is not first degree murder. We don't understand- we don't understand how all these officers have not been arrested. And, yes, his family has been notified by the owner of a club that Derek Chauvin was an off duty police officer while George Floyd was a security guard. And so they had to overlap. And so that is going to be an interesting aspect to this case and hopefully upgrading these charges to first degree murder because we believe he knew who George Floyd was.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you do believe this was premeditated?

CRUMP: We think that he had intent based on not the one minute, two minute, but over eight minutes, almost nine minutes--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

CRUMP: --he kept his knee in a man's neck that was begging and pleading for breath. At what point does it not be about detaining a man who's face down with handcuffs, not posing any threat to an intentional will to cause bodily harm? And if that results in death, every prosecutor in America will show that that is first degree murder. And I have to clarify this, because we saw it in Eric Garner when they start talking about underlying health conditions and what drugs and alcohol he had in his system,--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

CRUMP: --George Floyd died because of the knee--

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

CRUMP: --being shoved into his neck, and he could not breathe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Thank you very much, Mr. Crump. We'll be back in one minute with the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. Stay with us.