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$1.25 million bail set for Derek Chauvin at his initial court appearance in George Floyd’s death

Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd's neck. (Darnella Frazier/Facebook/Zuma Press/TNS) | Booking photos for Chauvin released on June 1, 2020. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office/Released)

Unconditional bail for former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was raised to $1.25 million Monday afternoon.

Chauvin made his first court appearance by video feed, handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit sitting at a small conference room table.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank argued that the “severity of the charges” and the strength of public opinion against Chauvin made him a more likely flight risk. Frank asked Circuit Court Judge Jeannice Reding to raise bail from $1.25 million from $1 million without conditions, and to $1 million from $750,000 with conditions.

Chauvin and his lawyer, Eric Nelson, did not object in the short hearing, which lasted 15 minutes.

Chauvin, 44, of Oakdale, faces charges of second-degree murder without intent, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin did not enter a plea. His next court appearance was set for June 29.

First appearances are typically procedural: The charges can be read to a defendant, although most attorneys waive the reading, bail is argued and another hearing date is set.

Chauvin was charged four days after his encounter with Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from St. Louis Park, on May 25. He is being held on $1 million bail at the state prison at Oak Park Heights.

Chauvin’s former colleagues, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are charged as accomplices.

A video recorded by a bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he told the officers he couldn’t breathe and warned them that he was going to die. Lane and Kueng were out of view restraining Floyd’s body.

The video also showed bystanders begging the officers to stop, and Thao standing watch nearby dismissing witnesses’ concerns.

All four were fired days after Floyd was killed on Memorial Day.

Kueng, Lane and Thao are each charged with one count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

The three are being held at the Hennepin County jail on $1 million bail without conditions or $750,000 bail with conditions.

Attorneys for Kueng and Lane told a judge during their clients’ first appearances last week that they were rookies and looked to Chauvin, the most senior officer, for guidance at the scene.

“At all times Mr. Kueng and Mr. Lane turned their attention to that 19-year veteran,” Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said last week. “(Kueng) was trying — they were trying to communicate that this situation needs to change direction.”

Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, argued last week that his client asked two times if they should roll Floyd onto his side but was rejected by Chauvin.

“What was (Lane) supposed to do … go up to Mr. Chauvin and grab him and throw him off?” said Gray, who plans to argue at a future hearing that there’s not enough evidence to prosecute his client.

Lane and Kueng had responded about 8:08 p.m. to a call that a man used a counterfeit $20 bill at the Cup Foods on the corner of Chicago Avenue and East 38th Street. They found Floyd sitting in a car nearby, handcuffed him and attempted to put him in their squad car. Chauvin and Thao arrived to assist.

While charging documents said Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the squad, Gray said last week that Floyd resisted arrest, “asserted himself” and later “flew out” of the squad through his own actions.

Lane restrained Floyd’s legs, Kueng held onto his back and Chauvin knelt on his neck as he lay in the street.

Lane twice asked if they should roll Floyd onto his back but Chauvin told them to keep him in the position, the charges said.

At one point, Kueng took Floyd’s pulse and told his former colleagues he couldn’t detect one. Chauvin is accused of keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for about two minutes after Kueng’s statement.

Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds total, according to the complaint.

Kueng, Lane and Thao are scheduled to make their next court appearance on June 29.


© 2020 Star Tribune

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