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AG Bill Barr rejected plea deal for George Floyd cop Derek Chauvin

US Attorney General William Barr rejected a plea deal for Derek Chauvin days after the Minneapolis cop was accused of killing George Floyd, a new report claims. 

Three law enforcement officials with knowledge of the deal told the New York Times that Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder three days after video of him kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an arrest on May 25 went viral, sparking fevered protests in the city and around the US. 

Under the deal, Chauvin would avoid civil rights charges and serve no more than 10 years in prison, the Times sources said. 

But right before local prosecutors were set to announce the deal, Barr stepped in and quashed it. One official said Barr made the decision because he feared the deal would be perceived as too lenient and premature, potentially exacerbating the unrest gripping the nation.   

The Times report published Wednesday came as tensions are again running high in Minneapolis ahead of the start of Chauvin’s trial on charges of unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Three law enforcement officials said Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder three days after video of him kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest on May 25 went viral, sparking fevered protests in the city and around the US

Attorney General William Barr (left) rejected a plea deal for Derek Chauvin (right) days after the Minneapolis cop was accused of killing George Floyd, the New York Times reported Wednesday. Three law enforcement officials said Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder three days after video of him kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an arrest on May 25 went viral, sparking fevered protests in the city and around the US

Chauvin is facing charges of unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after he pressed his knee into the neck of Floyd, a black man, for eight minutes during an arrest on May 25

Chauvin is facing charges of unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after he pressed his knee into the neck of Floyd, a black man, for eight minutes during an arrest on May 25

One official said Barr rejected Chauvin's plea deal because he feared the deal would be perceived as too lenient and premature, potentially exacerbating the unrest gripping the nation. Pictured: Buildings burn during protests in Minneapolis on May 28

One official said Barr rejected Chauvin’s plea deal because he feared the deal would be perceived as too lenient and premature, potentially exacerbating the unrest gripping the nation. Pictured: Buildings burn during protests in Minneapolis on May 28

Chauvin’s plea deal was subject to approval by Barr, who stepped down as attorney general in December, because the officer was asking to serve his time in a federal prison and he wanted assurance that the Department of Justice would not charge him with civil rights violations at the federal level.   

Barr blocked it in part because he worried about backlash that could arise from committing to a plea deal so soon after Floyd’s death, before a full investigation was concluded, the one official said. 

He also wanted to allow state officials, who were about to assume control of the case from the county prosecutor, to make their own decisions about how to proceed, the official said.  

Chauvin was ultimately arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on May 29, four days after Floyd’s death. Prosecutors later upgraded the third-degree murder charge to unintentional second-degree murder. 

George Floyd

Chauvin faces the possibility of up to 40 years in prison if convicted in the death of Floyd (pictured) 

Chauvin faces the possibility of up to 40 years in prison if convicted.  

His trial is slated to begin next month with jury selection on March 8. 

However, the prosecution, led by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, has asked to delay the trial, citing fears that coinciding demonstrations could become coronavirus super-spreader events.   

City and state officials have already begun preparing for protests during Chauvin’s trial and the trials of three other officers charged in Floyd’s death, which are slated to begin in August. 

Earlier this month  Gov Tim Walz authorized the deployment of an unspecified number of Minnesota National Guard troops in Minneapolis, St Paul and elsewhere during the trials. 

Protesters are seen outside Chauvin's home the day after Floyd was killed

Protesters are seen outside Chauvin’s home the day after Floyd was killed 

Walz, a Democrat, came under Republican criticism last summer for not sending in the National Guard sooner when his state was gripped by the first round of protests over Floyd’s death.

‘There are some public safety events for which you cannot plan, and there are some for which you can,’ Walz said a statement announcing his executive order.

The Guard troops will supplement local law enforcement agencies in keeping the peace and ensuring public safety while allowing for peaceful demonstrations.

The order leaves it to the state’s adjutant general, Maj Gen Shawn Manke, to determine the size, timing and other details of the deployment. The money will come from the state’s general fund.

The order also steps up pressure on legislators to authorize funding for local law enforcement agencies from across the state that have been asked to help with security during the trials. 

Walz has proposed a $35million State Aid and Emergencies (SAFE) account that would reimburse local governments for providing mutual aid for ‘unplanned or extraordinary public safety events,’ including but not limited to the trials. 

Republicans pushed back last week, calling the proposal a bailout for poor budget decisions and anti-police sentiment among Minneapolis leaders. They want Minneapolis to foot the bill.

 The governor’s statement said the state fund would be a ‘critical tool’ to ensure there are enough officers on the ground. 

The Guard is not considered a law enforcement agency, so it must partner with police to prevent or respond to any unrest. 

His office said that will require significant contributions of officers from other cities and counties, which will come at a cost.


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