Convicted killer Derek Chauvin is being kept away from other inmates at Minnesota’s “most secure” prison unit — where guards check his status “at least every 30 minutes” — the state Department of Corrections said Wednesday.
The former Minneapolis cop, who was found guilty Tuesday in George Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder, was placed on administrative segregation “for his safety” and is in the Administrative Control Unit of the state-run Oak Park Heights prison, agency spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald told the Daily News.
“The ACU is the state’s most secure unit,” she explained. “Administrative segregation is used when someone’s presence in the general population is a safety concern.”
Every cell in the unit has a camera that is monitored at all times and corrections officers do rounds every half- hour to check each inmate’s status, Fitzgerald said. Chauvin is one of 41 inmates housed in that facility, out of nearly 350 who are being held at Oak Park Heights, she said.
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Administrative segregation is not disciplinary in nature and is sometimes used for inmates whose presence in the general population “could pose a particular safety concern,” according to the facility’s website.
It was not clear if officials believe other prisoners could pose a threat to Chauvin or whether it’s the former officer who may pose a safety concern — to himself or others. Fitzgerald said she was not authorized to comment on any inmate’s mental health information.
Dr. Lisa Boesky, a psychologist specializing in jail suicide, said the additional security measures do not necessarily mean Chauvin is on suicide watch.
“It does not appear Mr. Chauvin’s current specialized housing and extra monitoring is related to concerns about suicide, but I expect he will be evaluated for suicide risk, if it has not happened already,” she told The News.
Oak Park Heights is a maximum-security prison about 25 miles east of Minneapolis.
Chauvin, who had been out on bail for months, was handcuffed and taken to the facility immediately after the 12-person jury announced its verdicts on the closely watched case. The panel found him guilty of all three counts — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
One of Floyd’s siblings, Philonise Floyd, urged the nation to “build on this moment” and begin the work of transforming policing in the U.S.
“This is what justice feels like: gut-wrenching relief, exhaustion,” he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post. “It’s not sweet or satisfying. It’s necessary, important, maybe even historic. But only with the passage of time will we know if the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin is the start of something that will truly change America and the experience of Black Americans.”
The disgraced ex-cop would technically face up to 40 years behind bars on the top murder charge, but he’s expected to get significantly less time because, among other factors, he is a first-time offender.
Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines advise 12.5 years for each murder charge and four years for manslaughter. Prosecutors have asked Judge Peter Cahill for more severe sentences, citing the facts that Floyd was particularly vulnerable, lying face-down on the street, that Chauvin was a uniformed officer acting in a position of authority and that multiple children witnessed him kneeling on top of Floyd.
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Chauvin, 45, is likely fight the prosecution’s request before his sentencing hearing, which is expected to come in about eight weeks. He is also expected to appeal his conviction.
Three of Chauvin’s colleagues, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, are scheduled to begin their trial on Aug. 23 for allegedly aiding and abetting the second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd.
Lane and Keung were the first to arrive at the Cup Foods were Floyd was accused of trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Lane ordered Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, while Keung was the first to check Floyd’s pulse. Thao never appeared to touch Floyd, but stood between the handcuffed victim and the witnesses pleading for Chauvin to get off of him.
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