Ex-Cop Charged With Murder of George Floyd Released From Jail

In this courtroom sketch, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, center, sits beside his defense attorney during a hearing in Minneapolis on Sept. 11, 2020. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

OAK PARK HEIGHTS, Minn. (CN) — The former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd was released from prison Wednesday on a $1 million bond.

Derek Chauvin, who faces second-and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for Floyd’s death, left Oak Park Heights prison at 9:40 a.m. Wednesday to post bail at the Hennepin County Jail, according to local CBS affiliate WCCO.

Chauvin posted a non-cash bond for conditional release. His bail was set in June at $1.25 million for unconditional release and $1 million with conditions, including requirements to appear at all future court appearances and prohibitions on firearm possession and working in any security capacity. He is also not permitted to leave Minnesota. 

Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, declined to comment.

The former officer attained national notoriety in late May when a video taken by bystanders showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. He is the last of four officers charged in relation to Floyd’s subsequent death to be released from custody. Fellow now-fired Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, all of whom face aiding-and-abetting charges, had all posted bail by July 4.

Chauvin also faces tax-fraud charges in his home county of Washington, where prosecutors allege he and his wife Kellie Chauvin lied about their income and assets and failed to file taxes at all for several years running. He was transferred to the Oak Park Heights facility shortly after his arrest because of concerns for his safety and risk of Covid-19. 

Chauvin’s trial is tentatively set for March, but Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill is expected to rule on motions to dismiss the cases against Chauvin, Thao, Lane and Kueng by Oct. 15. Attorneys for the officers have also been fighting to keep their cases separate in the face of a state motion for joinder and to move the trial out of Hennepin County, which is home to Minneapolis and to nearly 40% of Minnesota’s Black population.

Defense attorneys for the officers have announced their intent to argue that Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose, that Chauvin was not committing any crime when he detained Floyd, and that if there was a crime, the other three officers had no reason to question the conduct of Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the police department. Attorneys for Lane and Kueng especially have hit on this point, stressing that their clients had been on the job for less than a week at the time of Floyd’s death. 

Floyd’s death sparked massive civil unrest in Minneapolis and then across the country throughout the summer. After a crackdown by police and the Minnesota National Guard put an end to several days of rioting and arson in Minneapolis and the neighboring state capital of St. Paul in late May and early June, protests have continued nonstop and largely peacefully. 

A brief August resurgence of rioting and property damage following the suicide of a homicide suspect in downtown Minneapolis calmed down quickly after the city posted surveillance footage disproving rumors that police had shot the man.

Attorney Thomas Plunkett, who represents Kueng, also filed a police report saying that protesters at a Sept. 11 hearing threatened attorneys for the officers, assaulted Lane and his attorney and caused $2,000 in damage to Plunkett’s car with a bike. In a court filing, Plunkett argued that the protesters’ conduct supported the officers’ case for a change of venue. 

“The defendants and their lawyers cannot safely enter and exit the courthouse. Parties were physically assaulted after a simple motions hearing,” he wrote. “During trial, tensions are going to be even higher. The lawyers will be carrying notebooks, computers, law books and other materials to help defend their clients, which will make it more difficult for them to avoid the angry crowds.” 

That motion, too, is among those expecting a ruling by Oct. 15 following a pre-hearing notice by Judge Cahill. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, who is prosecuting the cases against Chauvin, Thao, Lane and Kueng, has opposed the motion in court. 

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