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George Floyd: Derek Chauvin finalises divorce from his wife under secret terms

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of murdering George Floyd, divorced his wife Kellie this week under secret terms.

The news comes after Minnesota prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to reinstate a third-degree murder count against Derek Chauvin.

Prosecutors said an appellate court decision from earlier this week sets legal precedent that shows the count is appropriate.

Derek Chauvin faces trial in March on one count of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter. 

Washington County District Judge Juanita Freeman issued the divorce order under seal on Tuesday, with a redacted version being made public on Thursday.

Freeman ordered redaction in the divorce case because of harassment and financial fraud allegations against the pair.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin

Chauvin, 44, and his beauty queen wife Kellie, 46, divorced this week under secret terms

Unless a judge approves a parties’ request to seal the related documents, most divorces and their settlements are public record.

Kellie Chauvin filed for divorce two days after her husband was charged with killing George Floyd on May 25, raising suspicions that the move was to protect assets from civil litigation.

Two months later, Floyd’s family filed a federal lawsuit against Chauvin, as well as the city of Minneapolis and the officer’s three former colleagues who ssisted in Floyd’s arrest: Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao.

That same month, the Washington County Attorney’s Office charged the then-married couple with nine felony counts each of failing to report $464,433 in joint income dating back to 2014. They a set to face trial in that case on June 30. 

Freeman rejected an initial proposed divorce settlement last October that had been drafted by Kellie and Derek Chauvin.

The judge cited possible fraud, noting that giving ‘substantially all’ of one’s assets to the other spouse can be an indicator of fraudulent activity.

‘Judge Freeman is placed in a difficult position,’ divorce attorney Jack De Walt, who is not involved in the case but has reviewed the latest documents and previous filings, told the Star Tribune. 

‘On the one hand, you have a case that clearly has larger implications on both a state and national level. … On the other hand, you have two parties seeking a divorce, and the [judge] must have felt that the revised proposal … adequately addressed her previous concerns.’  

Kellie Chuavin, then a radiology technician, met Derek Chauvin when he brought a suspect in for a health check before an arrest, returning to the hospital shortly after their initial meeting to ask her out

Derek Chauvin's mugshot

Kellie Chuavin, then a radiology technician, met Derek Chauvin when he brought a suspect in for a health check before an arrest, returning to the hospital shortly after their initial meeting to ask her out (pictured: Chauvin and her husband in his mugshot, right)

According to a second December divorce proposal – that came after the initial October one – Kellie Chauvin’s share of marital assets was $658,461, while Derek Chauvin’s share was an $8,862 debt.

Non-marital assets, money and property that were earned before marriage are normally awarded to the earner. Derek Chauvin’s non-marital award was $429,630. Kellie Chauvin’s share, meanwhile, was $45,256.

The agreement would see Kellie Chauvin would receive $754,911 from Derek Chauvin’s pension and three of his other bank accounts, while her husband would receive $452,524 in nonmarital assets from the same accounts.

The couple  married in 2010 and share no children together. They previously said that they were not seeking spousal maintenance.

After all assets and debts are factored in, Kellie Chauvin would receive $703,717; Derek Chauvin would receive $420,768. 

Divorce attorney Marc Beyer told the Star Tribune that the judge could have been persuaded to award Kellie Chauvin more marital assets because of the impact his criminal case has had on her, and the amount of Derek Chauvin’s nonmarital award. 

Chauvin was arrested after he was caught on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 44 seconds

George Floyd

Derek Chauvin (left), the white Minneapolis cop accused of killing George Floyd (right) by kneeling on his neck during an arrest last spring, is facing a second degree murder charge

George Floyd's death proved to be the catalyst for mass protests around the country and the world, galvanising the Black Lives Matter movement that dominated news channels for large parts of 2020, and continue to this day. Pictured: Demonstrators walk along Pennsylvania Avenue as they protest the death of George Floyd, May 29, 2020

George Floyd’s death proved to be the catalyst for mass protests around the country and the world, galvanising the Black Lives Matter movement that dominated news channels for large parts of 2020, and continue to this day. Pictured: Demonstrators walk along Pennsylvania Avenue as they protest the death of George Floyd, May 29, 2020

Last October, Judge Peter Cahill dismissed a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, saying that in order to prove that count, prosecutors would have to show his intentional conduct was ’eminently dangerous to others’ and not specifically directed at Floyd.

But on Monday, a three-judge panel from the state Court of Appeals came to a different conclusion when it upheld the third-degree murder conviction against former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor.

Noor is serving a 12-and-a-half year sentence for the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed Australian woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. 

In the Noor decision, the panel ruled that a third-degree murder conviction can be sustained even if the action that caused a death was directed at one person.

‘Because the decision in Noor is precedential and now provides this Court with clear guidance regarding the elements of third-degree murder, the State respectfully requests that the Court reinstate the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin or, in the alternative, that it permit the State to file an amended complaint that includes this third-degree murder charge,’ prosecutors wrote.

The defendants in the George Floyd case (clockwise from top left): Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Keung, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane

The defendants in the George Floyd case (clockwise from top left): Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Keung, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane

Prosecutors said the appeals court has ‘clarified the law’ and rejected the reasoning Cahill used when he dismissed the third-degree murder count against Chauvin. They also said the appeals court decision can be applied beyond the Noor case.

The appeals court decision may not be final – Noor’s attorney plans to ask the state Supreme Court to review it, but an appeal is not automatic and the Supreme Court could decline to consider it.

Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck even as he said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death sparked protests in Minneapolis and beyond, and led to a nationwide reckoning on race. 

Three other officers – Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao – are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter and are scheduled to face trial in August.

Prosecutors also want to add a charge of aiding and abetting third-degree murder to the other former officers’ cases.

Floyd's death sparked nationwide and global protest over racial justice. A protester is seen above near a building that was set on fire during a demonstration in Minneapolis on May 29 - four days after Floyd's death

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide and global protest over racial justice. A protester is seen above near a building that was set on fire during a demonstration in Minneapolis on May 29 – four days after Floyd’s death

Susan Gaertner, a former prosecutor, said from a strategic standpoint it’s not surprising that prosecutors would want to reinstate the third-degree murder charge, but getting it back into the case might add unnecessary complexity.

‘Going into a trial, no matter how well-prepared you are, you have to leave room for surprises or twists and turns of how the evidence ends up. 

So to have multiple theories that you can rely on can be helpful,’ she said. But, since the third-degree murder charge contains confusing language, it can be difficult for jurors to wrap their heads around. 

On Wednesday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz highlighted a proposal for a $35million fund for extensive security plans around Derek Chauvin’s trial for the death of George Floyd.

Officials are planning to bring in hundreds of officers from across the state and even the National Guard if violent protests erupt around the March 8 trail of Chauvin, 44. 

They are also considering building a perimeter wall around the city’s courthouse and government administration building.

Authorities fear a repeat of the crime and disorder that spread through the city as protesters looted and rioted in the wake of Floyd’s death.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, pictured, said the fund would be used to reimburse agencies across the state for providing security for the trial

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, pictured, said the fund would be used to reimburse agencies across the state for providing security for the trial

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has highlighted a proposal for a $35million fund to pay for hundreds more police officers, pictured in Minneapolis last year during George Floyd protests, to deal with civil unrest

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has highlighted a proposal for a $35million fund to pay for hundreds more police officers, pictured in Minneapolis last year during George Floyd protests, to deal with civil unrest

Chauvin was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after he was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 44 seconds, killing him on May 25, 2020.

‘We know we can’t predict every public safety challenge that may arise, but we can and must be prepared to protect Minnesotans’ safety,’ Walz tweeted on Wednesday.

‘That’s why our budget includes aid for local governments, from Centerville to St. Paul, for expenses that arise from extraordinary events.’

Walz said in a news conference on Wednesday that $35million State Aid for Emergencies account is needed for security plans that have been made for the trial months ago.

‘This is an opportunity for Minnesota to put a face forward to the world to show that we can protect First Amendment rights and we can make sure that public safety is adhered to,’ Walz said.

The security plan will likely involve the National Guard and hundreds of officers from agencies across the state, Axios reported.

Exact details of the security plan were not immediately clear, but there are also talks of building a perimeter around the Hennepin County Government Center.  


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