Unconditional bail for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was raised by $250,000 to $1.25 million Monday afternoon in the May 25 killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
Chauvin made his first court appearance by video feed, handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit sitting at a small conference room table in the Hennepin County jail.
In a hearing that lasted just 15 minutes, 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 District Judge Jeannice Reding to raise his bail from $750,000 to $1 million with conditions, and from $1 million to $1.25 million without conditions.
The conditions include: that he remain law abiding, that he not have any contact with Floyd's family, that he not work in law enforcement or security, that he surrender any firearms and licenses to carry, that he remain in Minnesota under court supervision, and that he sign a waiver of extradition upon his release.
Neither Chauvin nor his lawyer, Eric Nelson, objected.
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 at the hearing. His next court appearance was set for 1:30 p.m. 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 he killed Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from St. Louis Park, on May 25. He is being held at the state prison at Oak Park Heights.
The courtroom was mostly empty, occupied only by a handful of sheriff's deputies, reporters and lawyers. Plastic covers had been added along the bar separating the audience and lawyers as a precaution against the pandemic. Two large flat-screen televisions were placed in front of the judge's bench to show a live feed of Chauvin, who sat with jail personnel in a separate conference room.
Chauvin waived a reading of the complaint against him.
Frank quickly summarized the charges and what has been seen by millions from around the world in witness videos of the arrest and subsequent death of Floyd.
Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck "while he went limp and eventually lifeless," Frank said. "Obviously, the death of George Floyd has had a strong reaction in the community, to put it mildly."
Chauvin sat with his hands under a table for most of the hearing, at times looking like he was leaning forward to better hear questions from the judge and the video stream.
Nelson, Chauvin's lawyer, quickly ducked out of a side door at the courthouse after the hearing as dozens of reporters from around the country waited outside.
"I'm not making any comments at this time," Nelson said.
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 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 with just a few days' experience and looked to Chauvin, the most senior officer at the scene, for guidance.
"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 had asked two times if they should roll Floyd onto his side, but Chauvin said no.
"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 E. 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.
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.
This story has been corrected to state that Jeannice Reding is a district court judge, not a circuit court judge as was previously reported
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708
Greg Stanley • 612-270-4882