Pension officials in Minnesota told CNN that Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for the death of George Floyd, could still receive over $1 million in pension benefits, even if he's convicted of murder. According to the officials, Minnesota is one of many states that doesn't have any laws that prevent police officers from receiving their pension benefits if they're convicted of a crime that was committed while they were on the job.
Because there are no laws that require Chauvin's pension benefits to be withheld due to his alleged criminal acts, he could still receive those benefits even if he's convicted of murder and sentenced to prison time, according to CNN. The officials told CNN that all police officers who are fired are still eligible benefits, even when they are terminated for cause. So, Chauvin -- who is currently 44 -- would be eligible to receive his benefits once he turns 50.
The officials CNN spoke to would not provide specifics about how much Chauvin could receive from his pension benefits, but CNN's analysis of Chauvin's payroll data, tenure, contracts, and police pension plan information led them to estimate that Chauvin could be eligible for up to $1.5 million in benefits over 30 years.CNN reported that laws governing whether pensions can be revoked because of criminal acts vary from state to state. However, police unions nationwide have fiercely negotiated to protect pensions for police officers, even the ones who are terminated because of criminal activity. So, it's very difficult to withhold pension benefits from fired police officers.
Even in states where there are laws that allow pensions to be revoked for criminal activity, many of these laws stipulate that a pension can only be revoked when certain crimes are committed, CNN reported. Most states will only revoke pensions if a police officer is convicted of a felony, while some states will revoke pensions for non-felony crimes if they involve corruption or sexual acts with a minor. None of the states will revoke a police officer's pension for an excessive force conviction.
According to CNN, pensions for police officers are funded through personal contributions, investments made on behalf of the pension-holder as part of the pension plan, and taxpayer funds. This means that taxpayer dollars will be paying at least part of Chauvin's pension. CNN posited that conversations about defunding police departments that are happening in the wake of Floyd's death because of Chauvin's actions will likely include conversations about revoking police pensions.
Chauvin is the Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes, resulting in his death. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in jail if he's convicted of second-degree murder for Floyd's death.