11:12 GMT11 August 2020
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    Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death, has been moved to a maximum-security prison in Minnesota and was reportedly placed under suicide watch at the Ramsey County Jail, where he was first booked.

    Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell on Sunday night confirmed during a news conference Sunday night that Chauvin has been moved from the Hennepin County Jail to the Oak Park Heights maximum-security prison in Washington County, Minnesota. 

    Schnell noted that moving high-profile inmates in such a way is “not uncommon” and was partly done due to expectations that more people would be booked Sunday night at Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis. Chauvin is believed to have been transferred to the maximum-security prison shortly before 9 p.m. local time on Sunday. He was initially booked at the Ramsey County Jail in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday. 

    A source at the Ramsey County Jail told TMZ on Saturday night that Chauvin was in isolation at the facility and was being watched constantly via a surveillance camera. In addition, guards were checking on him in person every 15 minutes. 

    Even though the source who spoke to TMZ on the matter didn’t specifically use the term “suicide watch” to describe the situation, other law enforcement officials who spoke to the outlet did describe Chauvin’s circumstances in the Ramsey County Jail as suicide watch.

    Although the 15-minute checks are standard for those in the wing of the facility reserved for high-profile inmates, TMZ’s sources did say officials wanted to make sure nothing happened to Chauvin while he was in custody at the jail.

    In addition, the original source said that Chauvin didn’t make eye contact with anyone upon arriving at the facility and that he underwent an unclothed body search to see if he was carrying any contraband. Another source said that Chauvin had been in his cell at the Ramsey County Jail for 23 hours a day, which contained a bed bolted to the floor with a pillow sewn to it. He was permitted one hour of recreation time in an enclosed area and had access to books, pencils and paper.

    Chauvin and Floyd Once Worked Together at Local Nightclub

    A May 29 report by the Associated Press also revealed that Chauvin and Floyd both worked as security guards at the same Latin nightclub in Minnesota as recently as last year. However, Maya Santamaria, the former owner of the El Nuevo Rodeo club, is unsure if the two knew each other while they worked at the establishment.

    The former owner did say that Chauvin was extremely aggressive toward the club’s clientele on nights when mostly black people attended an event. Chauvin frequently responded to fights by spraying the crowd with mace, which Santamaria had told Chauvin was unjustified “overkill.”

    “He would mace everyone instead of apprehending the people who were fighting,” Santamaria told AP. “He would call backup. The next thing you would know, there would [be] five or six squad cars.”

    “I told him I thought this is unnecessary to be pepper-sprayed. The knee-jerk reaction of being afraid, it seemed overkill," Santamaria added. "It was a concern and I did voice my opinion, but police officers have a way of justifying what they do.”

    “I thought he would have more of a conscience," she continued. “Even if he is a bit of racist, he's a human being. … At what point does your humanity overpower your racial bias?”

    According to Santamaria, Chauvin worked an off-duty job at the club for more than 17 years, up until just a few months ago, while Floyd only recently started working there as a bouncer for events put on by “African-American promoters.” She told AP that for that reason, she doesn’t think the two knew each other. She also noted that if Chauvin recognized Floyd, “he might have given him a little more mercy” during the May 25 encounter that resulted in Floyd’s death.

    Floyd died after Chauvin refused to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck while holding him down on the ground. Disturbing cellphone footage captured Chauvin openly ignoring Floyd's pleas, even after he repeatedly said that he could not breathe. 

    A criminal complaint released Friday showed that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for a total of eight minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd was unresponsive for two minutes and 53 seconds while the former’s officer’s knee was still pressed on his neck. 

    Officers came in contact with Floyd after dispatchers received a call about a man trying to use forged money at a grocery store. Three other Minneapolis Police Department officers who were involved in Floyd's arrest have also been fired. They are currently under investigation, and it is still unknown what charges, if any, they may face.

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