Former FBI agent says 'intent' of officers could impact decision on civil rights charges

Eric Rasmussen
Updated: May 27, 2020 06:48 AM
Created: May 26, 2020 10:16 PM

While the Minneapolis police chief has called on the FBI to investigate whether officers violated the civil rights of George Floyd during an incident that ultimately ended in his death, a former special agent with FBI says such an investigation could take years rather than months to complete.

Kyle Loven was Chief Division Counsel for the FBI's Minneapolis Division until 2017. Despite witness video that he called "highly disturbing," Loven says federal investigators must now begin the task of trying to speak with everyone at the busy scene in the area of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South around 8 p.m. Monday.


"Anyone who has a 'touch' on this incident, the FBI will want to speak with them and put together a narrative or a portrait of all of the facts and circumstances that led to the incident," Loven said.

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Beyond gathering witness statements, Loven says investigators will have to go even a step further to meet the high bar for proving a federal civil rights violation.

"A measuring stick here will be the intent of the officers," Loven said. "What the FBI will be looking for here is whether or not the officers intentionally set out to violate this gentleman's civil rights."

The matter of intent was also cited by federal prosecutors in New York when they ultimately decided not to bring civil rights charges against an officer in the death of Eric Garner in 2014.

Like Floyd, Garner could be heard on video pleading with officers, "I can't breathe."

"I understand that emotions run high in these types of investigations and it's completely understandable," Loven said. "What I would tell people is that from the FBI standpoint – the investigation is going to be done professionally, it's going to be done competently, and it's going to be done thoroughly."

"What was the (officers') intent when this gentleman was on the ground and being subdued," Loven asked. "That will be pivotal as to whether or not charges will be filed in this case."

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