Law & the Courts

Feds Had Backup Plan to Arrest and Charge Derek Chauvin All Along: Report

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is handcuffed, after a jury found him guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., April 20, 2021, in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

The Justice Department reportedly had a contingency plan to arrest former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the case he was found not guilty for the murder of George Floyd, and will move ahead with charges of civil rights violations against Chauvin and the three other ex-cops involved in Floyd’s death.

According to sources who spoke to the Minneapolis Tribune, prosecutors out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota and the Justice Department have been building out their own criminal case in private before a grand jury. If the jury of 23 votes to indict, Chauvin and the others — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — will face new charges in federal court.

For Chauvin, the case not only relates to his involvement in Floyd’s death, but also to a 2017 incident in which the former cop allegedly hit a 14-year-old repeatedly with his flashlight while arresting him, and subsequently knelt on his back while the teenager complained that he could not breathe.

Federal authorities also developed a plan to file a criminal complaint and take Chauvin into custody at the courthouse in the case of a mistrial or a not-guilty verdict, sources told the paper.

Earlier this month, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, after a little over ten hours of jury deliberation, and now faces sentencing of up to 40 years in prison. The New York Times reported Thursday that eleven of the 12 jurors were immediately ready to convict Chauvin.

One day after the verdict, the Justice Department announced that it will be conducting a civil investigation into the Minneapolis police department to determine if it “engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

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