A new grand jury has been assembled by the U.S. Department of Justice for its civil rights investigation into former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The investigation fizzled out since its launch in May but has now been revived with the inauguration of President Joe Biden, The New York Times reports.
The Justice Department will investigate whether or not Chauvin violated George Floyd’s civil rights when he kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes while he begged for air. The confrontation killed 46-year-old Floyd and launched months of police brutality protests in response.
Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on bail in October.
The Justice Department’s civil rights investigation into Chauvin also reportedly includes an incident from September of 2017, where the officer pinned down a 14-year-old boy with his knee for several minutes while the boy said he couldn't breathe. The boy briefly lost consciousness during the incident.
As reported by REVOLT, Chauvin was ready to plead guilty to murder in the third degree last year but was allegedly blocked from doing so by the case’s presiding judge. Then-Attorney General William Barr claimed he rejected the guilty plea because it was too early in the investigation for him to make a decision. A guilty plea deal could have also negated potential federal charges against Chauvin, including a civil rights offense, law enforcement said.
The Justice Department reportedly did not respond to a request for comment on the status of the investigation, as grand jury proceedings are secret. Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Floyd’s family, also could not provide an update on the proceedings.
Though the probe was revived under President Biden’s administration, a White House official noted that Biden is not personally involved with the case as he previously promised to let the Justice Department operate independently.
Chauvin’s murder trial is scheduled to begin in Minneapolis on March 8. However, the investigation’s findings could potentially bring new federal charges against him.