Justice Department Reportedly Had Secret Backup Plan To Arrest Derek Chauvin If Found Not Guilty
Officials building a federal police brutality case against Derek Chauvin made secret contingency plans to arrest him in court in the event of a not guilty verdict, sources have revealed.
The Justice Department has reportedly been gathering evidence for the case for months, and plans to indict Chauvin and the three other former officers involved in the murder of George Floyd on civil rights charges in the coming weeks.
Officials feared that making the federal investigation public would potentially influence the state’s trial, however, and so developed a backup plan that would enable them to arrest Chauvin and the other officers immediately should he have been cleared through a not guilty verdict or a mistrial.
Sources familiar with the investigation told Star Tribune that the Minnesota US Attorney’s Office would have charged Chauvin by a criminal complaint at the courthouse, before going to a grand jury to ask for an indictment on federal police brutality charges.
The secret plan would have prevented Chauvin from walking free, and would have undoubtedly caused hugely dramatic scenes in the courtroom and across the country. However with Chauvin found guilty on all three counts of manslaughter, third-degree murder and second-degree murder last week, prosecutors are now preparing to ask a grand jury for an indictment with the former police officer currently behind bars as he awaits sentencing.
Chauvin is set to face charges of civil rights violations in connection with two cases: the George Floyd killing; and another violent arrest incident in 2017 in which he hit a 14-year-old boy over the head with a flashlight and grabbed him by the throat. The three other former officers – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – will face charges in connection with Floyd’s death. They are all currently awaiting state trial on charges of aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.
Star Tribune first reported in February that witnesses had been called to testify in front of a grand jury, with the civil rights investigation having been ongoing since May 2020. The extent of the secrecy surrounding the investigation has been deliberately calculated to avoid influencing state proceedings, with the judge having repeatedly warned that extreme outside publicity could lead the collapse of the trial.
The news comes days after the Justice Department also announced that it was separately investigating the entire Minneapolis Police Department for ‘systemic policing issues’.
The Minnesota US Attorney’s Office has not commented on the secret arrest plans.
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