(USA Features) The Biden Justice Department formulated a secret “back-up plan” to arrest former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin if a jury had found him not guilty of murdering George Floyd earlier this month, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The newspaper reported that the plan hinged on a behind-the-scenes investigation Justice Department officials had conducted on Chauvin. Authorities — presumably the FBI or the U.S. Marshal’s service — were standing by to move quickly and arrest Chauvin at the courthouse if he was found not guilty or a mistrial occurred.
“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,” the paper reported.
“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,” the Star-Tribune added.
Under the plan, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota would have charged Chauvin via a criminal complaint because it would be a faster alternative for a federal charge since it didn’t require a grand jury.
As such, Chauvin could have been immediately arrested while the U.S. Attorney’s office then asked a grand jury for an indictment, sources told the paper.
As it turned out, Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges: Second- and Third-Degree Murder as well as Second-Degree Manslaughter. He will be sentenced later this spring; he faces decades behind bars.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has also launched a sweeping “pattern and practice” investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, which Attorney General Merrick Garland justified as necessary following the death of Floyd.
“Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” Garland said the day after Chauvin’s trial ended.
As police departments come under assault around the country, though, many are suffering shortages of officers and an inability to recruit enough new ones to fill vacancies.