The Justice Department reportedly had a contingency plan to arrest former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Minneapolis courthouse and charge him with civil-rights violations if he was found not guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd, or if the case ended in a mistrial.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, federal investigators had been building a police brutality case for months against Chauvin and the three other former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.
Reportedly, under the contingency plan, the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office would have filed a criminal complaint to charge Chauvin, so he could be immediately arrested, and then asked a grand jury for an indictment.
The “backup plan” was not needed because the state jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20.
The expression in Derek Chauvin’s eyes as he learnt his fate. Guilty on three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. pic.twitter.com/D6PpU9CkBT
— Simon Adjatan (@adjatan) April 23, 2021
Now that the murder trial is over, the DOJ is purportedly moving forward with its case.
The federal prosecutors will ask a grand jury to indict Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao on civil rights violations, an anonymous source told the Star Tribune.
The grand jury, made up of a group of 23 citizens, reportedly met in secret last year to hear the federal authorities’ evidence and decide if there was probable cause to issue charges.
“George Floyd’s death spurred a renewed and re-energized civil rights movement,” Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Floyd’s family, told The Times.
“It’s appropriate and gratifying that the Department of Justice under President Biden is taking racial justice seriously.”
If the grand jury voted to indict the officers, they could all face another criminal trial in federal court, according to the Star Tribune.
Federal authorities reportedly want to indict all four officers in connection with Floyd’s death, and Chauvin specifically for the aggressive arrest of a 14-year-old boy in 2017, as well.
“The president has spoken in personal terms about how the death of George Floyd affected him and redoubled his commitment to advancing racial justice,” the White House said in a February statement, according to The Times.
“But he’s also made clear that he firmly believes that the Department of Justice must be able to act independently in investigating and prosecuting any case.”
“We have a giant opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Real justice,” Biden said.
The Justice Department announced a separate investigation into whether Minneapolis police engage “in a pattern and practice of unlawful behavior” the day after Chauvin’s guilty verdict, according to the Star Tribune.
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