Newly surfaced reports have revealed that officials with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) intended to arrest and charge Chauvin with civil rights violations if he was found not guilty for Floyd’s in-custody death.
Citing sources familiar with the case, the Minnesota Star Tribune recently reported that DoJ officials had a contingency plan in place that would have seen Chauvin charged via a criminal complaint in the event that he was either found not guilty on all counts or a mistrial was declared. A subsequent move would have been to then seek a grand jury indictment.
That plan, which would have seen federal officials immediately take Chauvin into custody at the courthouse, never materialized on account of the guilty verdicts brought down by the jury on April 20. However, that’s not to say officials have abandoned their plans entirely, either.
The Star Tribune’s findings indicate that federal prosecutors are now planning to obtain a grand jury indictment against Chauvin and three other former cops - J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao - who were involved in the fatal encounter.
A source informed the outlet that the indictment would be based on civil rights violations, noting that the new offenses would be on top of the state’s charges.
Although prosecutors are seeking to indict Chauvin for kneeling on Floyd’s neck during the fatal arrest, they are also reportedly looking to connect the indictment to the violent 2017 arrest that saw Chauvin repeatedly strike a 14-year-old boy in the head with a flashlight and grab him by the throat. The 2017 arrest also saw Chauvin pinning the teen down on the ground with his knee, ignoring pleas he could not breathe.
Unlike Chauvin, the federal case would only charge Kueng, Lane and Thao over Floyd’s death, the source detailed to the outlet, further revealing that the indictments are expected to be delivered soon. Grand jury proceedings were initially taken on in February, the New York Times reported at the time.
Kueng, Lane and Thao are scheduled to be tried together in one trial in mid-August. The events are expected to be livestreamed like that of the Chauvin trial. The trio are each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter; however, prosecutors are attempting to add aiding and abetting third-degree murder to each of the defendants’ cases.
Chauvin is currently in custody at Minnesota’s maximum security Oak Park Heights prison while awaiting his sentencing hearing, which is expected to be held in June. The three fellow officers are currently out on bail.