DEREK Chauvin, US police officer whose murder of George Floyd sparked massive racial justice protests in 2020, was stabbed in prison on Friday, the New York Times reported citing unnamed sources.
Chauvin knelt on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes on a Minneapolis street despite the dying man’s pleas.
Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe” were a rallying call for demonstrators domestically and abroad who took to the streets in the killing’s aftermath.
The US Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed an assault to AFP without naming the person wounded.
“An incarcerated individual was assaulted at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Tucson,” in the southwestern state of Arizona, it said in a statement.
“Responding employees initiated life-saving measures for one incarcerated individual,” the statement said, adding that the wounded individual was sent to a local hospital “for further treatment and evaluation.”
Chauvin survived the attack, according to a New York Times source.
Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in 2021, and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison.
The incident was caught on video — providing a drastically different version of events than the initial police news release, which simply stated “officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
A Justice Department probe into the Minneapolis police, the findings of which were published in June 2023, said that officers in the department routinely resorted to violent and racist practices, “including unjustified deadly force.”
The city of Minneapolis, in the midwestern state of Minnesota, also settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Floyd family, agreeing to pay his relatives $27 million.
– 2020 protests –
Chauvin appealed his second-degree murder conviction, which was rejected by the US Supreme Court earlier this month.
“At the end of the day, the whole trial, including sentencing, was a sham,” he said from prison in a recent documentary.
But at his sentencing hearing, he spoke little, “due to some additional legal matters at hand.”
“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” he added.
Otherwise he remained expressionless, as he did during the trial, even when witnesses gave damning testimony against him.
Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson had said his client “exuded a calm and professional demeanor” in his interactions with Floyd, and sought to convince the jury that the ex-cop only applied a hold that was authorized and consistent with his training.
But the prosecution successfully argued that Chauvin had used excessive force — not only with Floyd, but with others he arrested during his 19-year career on the force.
Prior to the trial the prosecution dug up several examples of his “modus operandi,” including the case of Zoya Code, a young Black woman arrested by Chauvin in 2017.
“Even though the female was not physically resisting in any way, Chauvin kneeled on her body, using his body weight to pin her to the ground,” the prosecution said.
But the Floyd case was from the beginning a bigger story than individual accounts of injustice, helping galvanize huge protests and a reckoning on racism and policing in the United States and internationally.
The reverberations are still playing out in the United States today, with debates over racism still roiling politics and schools.
– Paper trail –
After the murder, colleagues later sketched a portrait of Chauvin as a silent, rigid workaholic who often patrolled the city’s more difficult neighborhoods.
His commitment to the job earned him four medals throughout his career. But he also racked up 22 internal complaints and investigations, according to a public record scrubbed of all details.
Only one of these numerous complaints, filed by a white woman whom he had violently pulled from her car in 2007 for speeding, in front of her crying infant, was followed by a letter of reprimand.