Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is in the running to be presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden’s running mate, found herself under fire Thursday for not prosecuting years ago a Minneapolis police officer who this week was videotaped kneeling on the neck of an African-American suspect who died in custody.
The attention on Ms. Klobuchar’s tenure as Hennepin County attorney, which had posed problems for her during her presidential bid, comes at a time when she is one of several women under consideration by Mr. Biden’s campaign as a possible vice presidential candidate.
The issue Thursday largely revolved around former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck in the infamous video who, with three other officers, was immediately dismissed from the force when the video surfaced.
During the eight years she was a Minnesota prosecutor, prior to winning her Senate seat, Ms. Klobuchar passed on opportunities to prosecute Mr. Chauvin and several other officers accused of dubious conduct, according to reports in The Guardian newspaper and left-wing outlets such as The Daily Kos and the Young Turks.
Mr. Chauvin had 10 complaints filed against him during his nearly 20-year career in Minneapolis, according to an archive kept by a private group, Minneapolis’ Communities United Against Police Brutality.
In one incident, Mr. Chauvin was involved in a fatal shooting of a stabbing suspect in October 2006 when Ms. Klobuchar functioned as Minneapolis’ district attorney. Ms. Klobuchar was elected to the Senate the next month. The grand jury in 2008 declined to indict Mr. Chauvin, the Guardian reported.
In 2011, when Ms. Klobuchar no longer held that post, Mr. Chauvin was involved in an even more high-profile shooting of a Native American. He was placed on administrative leave but was reinstated to the force when no formal charges were brought.
During her presidential campaign, some liberal activists criticized Ms. Klobuchar for a pattern of ignoring police misconduct during her tenure as county attorney. She was accused of aggressively pursuing all manner of lesser crimes while giving law enforcement officials a pass for allegedly more egregious conduct.
Mr. Biden has said he would select a woman for his 2020 ticket, and Ms. Klobuchar is reportedly one of the people going through the vetting process as a potential running mate.
Left-wing sources adamantly opposed that selection Thursday.
“Klobuchar has been called out for her actions as chief prosecutor before,” read a post at the Daily Kos. “But this latest story has to make absolute poison. Now way can Biden pick her now. Nor put her in his cabinet.”
Ms. Klobuchar joined several members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation in a letter May 26 to U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman that “called for accountability for George Floyd’s death,” according to their press release.
But critics said her statement was a milquetoast one that failed to adequately convey outrage over the incident.