The Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) reportedly planned to arrest former Minneapolis Police Office Derek Chauvin in court and charge him with civil rights violations if the jury were to find him innocent of murder.
“Leading up to Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, Justice Department officials had spent months gathering evidence to indict the ex-Minneapolis police officer on federal police brutality charges, but they feared the publicity frenzy could disrupt the state’s case,” a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune outlined. “So they came up with a contingency plan: If Chauvin were found not guilty on all counts or the case ended in a mistrial, they would arrest him at the courthouse, according to sources familiar with the planning discussions.”
This “backup plan,” the report said, wasn’t “necessary” for the DOJ, since the jury on April 20 found Chauvin guilt of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to the death of George Floyd.
Still, the DOJ is moving forward with the case, planning to level charges of civil rights violations against the former officer, who is still awaiting sentencing for the murder and manslaughter convictions.
Notably, before the jury announced their verdict, President Joe Biden publicly said he was “praying” jurors would hand down the “right verdict” and convict Chauvin. The Daily Wire reported:
“I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they are feeling, and so I waited until the jury is sequestered and I called,” Biden said, referring to a phone call he shared with Floyd’s family Monday. “I wasn’t going to say anything about it … it was a private conversation.”
“They’re a good family and they are calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is. I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is, I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury is sequestered,” he continued.
On May 25, Chauvin and three other officers arrested and detained Floyd after he allegedly gave counterfeit money at a convenience store. Following a struggle to get Floyd into the back of a police cruiser, viral video shows that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back for nearly nine minutes to detain Floyd while awaiting paramedics.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson argued during the trial that Floyd’s drug use and bad heart were crucial factors in his death and that Chauvin used reasonable force through an authorized prone hold. The Hennepin County medical examiner revealed that Floyd’s autopsy showed the deceased had potentially lethal levels of drugs in his system.
Before the verdict was announced, Nelson argued to Judge Peter Cahill for a mistrial. The defense attorney complained that the jury had not been sequestered for the trial, despite jurors likely being “bombarded” with outside messaging and media reports about the case. Nelson, however, was unsuccessful.