Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was prepared to plead guilty to third-degree murder in George Floyd’s death before then-Attorney General William Barr personally blocked the plea deal last year, officials said.
The deal would have averted any potential federal charges, including a civil rights offense, as part of an effort to quickly resolve the case to avoid more unrest after protests and riots devastated a swath of south Minneapolis, according to two law enforcement officials.
The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Barr rejected the deal in part because the investigation into Floyd’s death was still in its infancy, the officials said.
That Chauvin had been in plea talks has been previously reported. But the detail that he agreed to plead guilty to a specific charge is new.
Floyd died May 25 after Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
Widely seen bystander video sparked riots in the city, including violence, arson and theft, and quickly spread around the country.
Chauvin was fired soon after Floyd’s death. He is scheduled for trial on March 8 on charges including second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Three other officers at the scene, also since fired, are scheduled for trial later this year.
Tom Kelly, Chauvin’s attorney at the time of the plea talks, said Thursday he could not discuss the case. Chauvin is now represented by Eric Nelson, who declined comment.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office also declined to comment.
Separately, the judge handling Chauvin’s case on Thursday declined a prosecution request to reinstate a third-degree murder charge.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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