Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin filed a request to overturn his conviction in the murder of George Floyd and to have a new trial because of new evidence.
Chauvin is serving a 21-year sentence in an Arizona prison for the death of Floyd in 2020 when he kneeled on his neck during an arrest. The incident sparked national protests that even went global as demonstrations, riots, and violence broke out ostensibly to decry police brutality.
The former cop now believes he would never have pleaded guilty, and a jury would never have convicted him, if information from a pathologist studying the case was known.
“In a motion filed in federal court Monday, Chauvin said he never would have pleaded guilty to the charge in 2021 if he had known about the theories of a Kansas pathologist with whom he began corresponding in February. Chauvin is asking the judge who presided over his trial to throw out his conviction and order a new trial, or at least an evidentiary hearing,” The Associated Press reported.
That pathologist, Dr. William Schaetzel, of Topeka, “believes Floyd died not from asphyxia from Chauvin’s actions, but from complications of a rare tumor called a paraganglioma that can cause a fatal surge of adrenaline,” the AP noted, adding that Schaetzel had not examined Floyd’s body but based his conclusions on a review of autopsy reports.
“I can’t go to my grave with what I know,” Schaetzel told the AP in a phone call on Monday. “I just want the truth.”
“Chauvin further alleges that Schaetzel reached out to his trial attorney, Eric Nelson, in 2021, as well as the judge and prosecution in his state-court murder trial, but that Nelson never told him about the pathologist or his ideas. He also alleges that Nelson failed to challenge the constitutionality of the federal charge,” the AP reported.
Chauvin’s motion filed Monday reads, in part:
“Had defendant been provided Dr. Schaetzel’s and Dr. Haney’s conclusions (Exhibit-A), the Autopsy Report (Exhibit-B), Toxicology Report (Exhibit-C), and the MPD Use of Force, 5-300 Policy (Exhibit-D) prior to his December 15, 2021 guilty plea, defendant would not have pled guilty, and would have insisted on going to trial. That is, had Nelson not withheld the above stated Exhibits from defendant while simultaneously advising defendent to accept the plea agreement, the outcome of the proceeding would be drastically different in this case.”
The former police officer has had federal appeals for a rehearing rejected on two other occasions and is still awaiting word on whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the case.
Chauvin admitted that he “willfully violated Mr. Floyd’s constitutional right to be free from an officer’s use of unreasonable force” in his 2021 plea deal.
A memo from the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs stated: “Chauvin admitted that his willful use of unreasonable force resulted in Mr. Floyd’s bodily injury and death because his actions impaired Mr. Floyd’s ability to obtain and maintain sufficient oxygen to sustain Mr. Floyd’s life.”
His guilty plea in 2021 meant he effectively waived his rights to appeal except on the basis of a claim of ineffective counsel.
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