Minneapolis, MN – Federal prosecutors had a secret backup plan to immediately arrest former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on federal charges in the Hennepin County courtroom if he wasn’t convicted of George Floyd’s murder.
Nothing about the handling of the charges against Chauvin or his incarceration immediately following his trial for the murder of George Floyd were done in the usual manner.
Chauvin faces anywhere from 12.5 to 40 years in prison for the murder of Floyd when he is sentenced on June 25.
The length of his sentence depends on whether the Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill approves an enhanced sentence for aggravating factors.
Chauvin was booked into a maximum security state prison on Wednesday afternoon where he will await sentencing for his conviction on all charges in the murder of George Floyd, CNN reported.
It is unusual for an inmate to be transferred to prison ahead of sentencing, but security concerns led Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to make arrangements with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) for Chauvin’s immediate incarceration at a state facility, DOC spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald said.
Chauvin is being housed separately from the general population of the prison, CNN reported.
“He is on ‘administrative segregation’ status for his safety,” Fitzgerald wrote an email. “Administrative segregation is used when someone’s presence in the general population is a safety concern.”
The prison – Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights – is located about 25 miles east of downtown Minneapolis in Stillwater, CNN reported.
It’s considered the most secure lockdown facility in the state, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
But if the jury had found Chauvin not guilty, or if the judge had declared a mistrial due to a hung jury, the former police officer still never had a chance of leaving the Hennepin County courtroom.
Sources told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the emergency contingency plan called for the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office to immediately charge Chauvin with federal crimes by criminal complaint.
And then prosecutors would have run to the secretly empaneled grand jury to whom they have been presenting evidence of federal civil rights violations for months and ask for an indictment against the former police officer.
The goal was to avoid another round of rioting, looting, and burning that was inevitable if Chauvin was set free – even temporary – after the heavily publicized trial in the city that has been suffering unrest for almost a year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Federal prosecutors have been waiting to bring federal civil rights charges against Chauvin in connection the death of Floyd and for another arrest he made of a teenager in 2017.
Minnesota prosecutors were preparing for Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 when they were sent a series of bodycam videos from an earlier arrest made by the same officer, ABC News reported.
The videos from a Sept. 4, 2017 arrest allegedly showed that a teenage boy Chauvin arrested after a physical confrontation had required stitches.
They also allegedly showed Chauvin holding the boy down with his knee for about 17 minutes and ignoring the teen’s complaints that he couldn’t breathe, according to ABC News.
Prosecutors tried to introduce bodycam video from the 2017 arrest into evidence in Chauvin’s trial.
That incident occurred when Minneapolis police officers, including Chauvin, responded to a 911 call from a woman who claimed her 14-year-old son and daughter had attacked her, ABC News reported.
Matthew Frank, one of the state prosecutors, wrote in a court filing that when officers arrived at the home, they ordered the son to lie on the ground.
Frank said the 14 year old refused and claimed Chauvin hit him on the head with a flashlight, causing a wound that required medical attention, ABC News reported.
The prosecutor also alleged the bodycam showed Chauvin grabbed the teenager by the throat, struck him with the flashlight a second time, and then “applied a neck restraint, causing the child to lose consciousness and go to the ground.”
He said the teen was bleeding from the ear, ABC News reported.
“Chauvin and [the other officer] placed [the teenager] in the prone position and handcuffed him behind his back while the teenager’s mother pleaded with them not to kill her son and told her son to stop resisting,” Frank wrote in the court filing. “About a minute after going to the ground, the child began repeatedly telling the officers that he could not breathe, and his mother told Chauvin to take his knee off her son.”
The prosecutor said Chauvin moved his knee from the boy’s neck to his upper back after eight minutes and kept it there for another nine minutes, ABC News reported.
Chauvin eventually arrested the boy for domestic assault and obstruction with force and the teen was taken to the hospital by ambulance for stitches.
The state claimed Chauvin’s action with the teen mirrored his behavior with Floyd and told the judge they wanted to show jurors a pattern of conduct by the former police officer, ABC News reported.
“Those videos show a far more violent and forceful treatment of this child than Chauvin describes in his report,” Frank wrote.
He also said the bodycam would “show Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force towards this child and complete disdain for his well-being.”
But Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill didn’t allow it and the incident was never mentioned at trial, although it resurfaced in the media during that time, ABC News reported.
Now federal prosecutors have indicated the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) may be ready to bring charges against Chauvin in connection with the 2017 incident.
Federal prosecutors initiated a federal grand jury investigation in February and had witnesses testify about what happened in September of 2017.
Sources told ABC News that the DOJ investigation was ongoing and prosecutors were trying to decide whether to bring civil rights charges against Chauvin in connection with Floyd’s death and for the 2017 arrest.
Minneapolis police officials were briefed about the investigation into the other incident just before federal officials announced a sweeping investigation of the policies and practices of the entire Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) a day after Chauvin was convicted of murder.
“We will assist the DOJ with anything that they need, and the chief has pledged full cooperation with any investigating agency,” MPD Spokesman John Elder said with regard to all of the ongoing investigations.