DOJ planned to arrest Derek Chauvin in court and charge him with civil-rights violations if he was acquitted of murder, report says

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Derek Chauvin
Derek Chauvin in his mugshot and being placed in handcuffs after he was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd. Minnesota Department of Corrections via AP/Court TV via AP

Justice Department officials planned to arrest Derek Chauvin at the courthouse and charge him with civil-rights violations if he was found not guilty of murder in George Floyd's killing or if there was a mistrial, the Star Tribune's Andy Mannix reported Wednesday.

According to the report, federal prosecutors spent months building a police-brutality case against Chauvin and the three other former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection to Floyd's death.

In an effort not to influence the outcome of the murder trial, the department held off on pushing forward with a grand-jury indictment but had a plan in place in case Chauvin was acquitted, the Star Tribune reported.

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Protesters hold signs honoring Floyd outside Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on March 28. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

People familiar with the discussions told the Star Tribune about the Justice Department's plan.

The Minnesota US attorney's office would have charge Chauvin by criminal complaint so authorities could arrest him immediately, then seek a grand-jury indictment afterward, the Star Tribune reported.

But that plan was never realized, as a jury last week found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's killing. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison on the most serious charge, second-degree murder, and his sentencing is scheduled for June.

Federal prosecutors are still going forward with the case but plan to do so by getting a grand-jury indictment first, the Star Tribune reported, citing a source. The Justice Department impaneled a federal grand jury in February, The New York Times reported at the time.

The source said indictments against Chauvin and the three other officers present during Floyd's arrest - J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao - were expected soon.

The department is separately opening a civil investigation into the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department, Attorney General Merrick Garland said last week.

The Justice Department declined to comment when reached by Insider on Thursday. The Minnesota US attorney's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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The three other officers who were present during Floyd's arrest, from left: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP

According to the Star Tribune, federal prosecutors planned to charge Chauvin in connection with Floyd's death and the violent arrest of a 14-year-old boy in 2017. ABC News previously reported the department was considering charges over the 2017 arrest.

That incident was described in court documents by prosecutors in the murder case who wanted to use it as evidence of a pattern of behavior by Chauvin.

In a court filing, prosecutors said Chauvin struck a Black teenager in the head with a flashlight and placed him in a prone position for 17 minutes, the Star Tribune reported. ABC News reported, also citing court documents, that Chauvin ignored complaints that the teen couldn't breathe.

The Star Tribune reported that the three other officers would be charged only in connection with Floyd's fatal arrest.

Kueng, Lane, and Thao are also set to stand trial together in August on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

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