The U.S. Justice Department is exploring the possibility of bringing charges against former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin after videos from a 2017 incident showed him brutally hitting a Black teenager in the head and kneeling on him for almost 17 minutes during a violent arrest, ABC News reported.
Just like Floyd, the teenager allegedly told Chauvin he could not breathe while the former cop had him pinned to the ground with his knee. But Chauvin did not budge. The incident also reportedly left the teenager with a head injury and in need of stitches as the impact with which Chauvin struck him was severe.
The videos in question were reportedly shown to Minnesota state prosecutors last year while they were getting ready for Chauvin’s trial over the May 25 death of Floyd. The former disgraced cop was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of the African-American father on April 20.
“Those videos show a far more violent and forceful treatment of this child than Chauvin describes in his report [of the incident],” Matthew Frank, a state prosecutor who looked into the incident involving the teen, wrote in a court filing. And though state prosecutors did not bring charges against Chauvin at the time, the DOJ could reopen the case.
Witnesses who saw the September 2017 incident testified before a federal grand jury two months ago, ABC News reported. A source also told the news outlet authorities are still investigating the incident and the Justice Department is looking at filing federal charges against Chauvin over the death of Floyd as well as the incident involving the teen.
Prior to the commencement of Chauvin’s trial for Floyd’s death, state prosecutors had reportedly wanted to cite the 2017 incident to the jury to make a case for their argument about the former cop’s attitude while on the job. The judge turned the request down.
Before the judge’s ruling, however, Frank, in court documents, said body-cam footage of the incident “show Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force towards this child and complete disdain for his well-being.”
The September 2017 incident occurred when Chauvin and other colleague officers responded to a 911 call about a woman who alleged her 14-year-old son and daughter had attacked her at her home, Frank said, according to ABC News. Following a conversation with the woman after the officers got to the scene of the incident, the teenage boy was instructed to get on the ground but he declined those orders.
Things quickly escalated from there and Chauvin allegedly struck the teenager’s head with his flashlight, grabbed his throat and struck him with the flashlight again. Frank said Chauvin subsequently “applied a neck restraint, causing the child to lose consciousness and go to the ground.”
“Chauvin and [the other officer] placed [the teenager] in the prone position and handcuffed him behind his back while the teenager’s mother pleaded with them not to kill her son and told her son to stop resisting,” Frank wrote, adding that the teenager started bleeding from the ear. “About a minute after going to the ground, the child began repeatedly telling the officers that he could not breathe, and his mother told Chauvin to take his knee off her son.”
Chauvin allegedly knelt on the teenager for almost 17 minutes. The injured boy was arrested and charged with domestic assault and obstruction with force. Paramedics who attended to the boy had to transport him to a hospital for his head to be stitched.
Frank likened Chauvin’s use of force on the teen to that of Floyd’s. The 46-year-old African-American passed away after Chauvin knelt on his neck for over nine minutes despite repeatedly telling him he couldn’t breathe.
“As was true with the conduct with George Floyd, Chauvin rapidly escalated his use of force for a relatively minor offense,” Frank added. “Just like with Floyd, Chauvin used an unreasonable amount of force without regard for the need for that level of force or the victim’s well-being. Just like with Floyd, when the child was slow to comply with Chauvin and [the other officer’s] instructions, Chauvin grabbed the child by the throat, forced him to the ground in the prone position, and placed his knee on the child’s neck with so much force that the child began to cry out in pain and tell Chauvin he could not breathe.”
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, however, dismissed the alleged similarities, arguing that “his client’s action that day was “was reasonable and authorized under the law as well as MPD policy,” ABC News reported. Nelson also argued the teen was “actively resisting” arrest and cited the circumstances surrounding the incident.