As the police officers who were involved in the killing of George Floyd await trial for their heinous act, a federal grand jury has been empaneled to look into whether to also charge former police officer Derek Chauvin on a federal level.
Chauvin is the police officer caught on a mobile phone video kneeling on Floyd’s neck as the victim was losing his life and as the other police officers did nothing to stop it. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes even as his actions were being recording by a witness.
According to The New York Times, the Justice Department is specifically looking into the actions of the former Minneapolis police officer. As the city prepares for the start of its trial next month, a federal grand jury has been empaneled in Minneapolis and the Justice Department has called new witnesses as part of its investigation into Chauvin.
“George Floyd’s death spurred a renewed and re-energized civil rights movement,” Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the family of Floyd, said in a statement. “It’s appropriate and gratifying that the Department of Justice under President Biden is taking racial justice seriously.”
Although Biden had publicly condemned the police killing of Floyd while on the campaign trail last year, he has vowed to allow the department to operate independently of the White House.
The White House, in a statement, said, “the president has spoken in personal terms about how the death of George Floyd affected him and redoubled his commitment to advancing racial justice, but he’s also made clear that he firmly believes that the Department of Justice must be able to act independently in investigating and prosecuting any case.”
The New York Times had recently reported that three days after Floyd died on May 25, Chauvin was prepared to plead guilty to third-degree murder and serve a prison term for more than a decade. But Attorney General William Barr, at the last minute, rejected the deal, as it had been contingent on the Justice Department’s agreement not to bring additional federal charges in the future.