Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police Department officer accused of killing George Floyd in Minnesota on Monday, is reportedly on suicide watch at Ramsey County Jail in St. Paul. The 44-year-old was taken into custody on Friday and formally charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for his role in an arrest attempt that ultimately led to Floyd’s death.
A source at the jail told TMZ that a camera is focused on Chauvin at all times and officers are performing regular checks of his cell, which could be signs of a suicide watch.
Chauvin was the key figure in a viral video that documented Floyd’s final moments of life earleir this week. As he and three other officers attempted to bring Floyd into custody on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a store, the 46 year old eventually ended up on the ground, whereupon Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck. He continued to do so for nearly nine minutes, despite Floyd’s pleas for air and eventual loss of consciousness. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
In the days that have followed, protests have erupted in Minneapolis where Floyd died and around the country as a national outcry over racial injustice and police brutality has proliferated.
Chauvin was reportedly booked on Friday afternoon — refraining from making eye contact with anyone as he was checked in — after which he was stripped and searched for hidden contraband. After being given his jail uniform, Chauvin dressed and is said to have been led to a single cell in a wing of the facility reserved for high-profile cases. TMZ‘s source says that he’s being checked on in-person every 15 minutes, in addition to 24/7 video surveillance of his cell.
In the hours following Chauvin’s arrest, a lawyer speaking on behalf of Chauvin’s wife, Kellie Chauvin, announced that she had filed for divorce. She also expressed sympathy for Floyd and his family, while requesting that her children from a previous marriage, as well as other family and friends be given safety and privacy as events continue to unfold.
If convicted, Chauvin could serve up to 15 years on the murder charge, as well as a maximum of nearly five years on the manslaughter charge. According to CBS Minnesota, an MPD officer that was brought up on similar charges in 2019 received 12 and a half years in prison after being convicted. However, Freeman has said that additional charges are still possible for Chauvin.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.