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Monday, April 19, 2021

A Judge Dismisses a Charge Against an Ex-Guard Who Helped Lure a Detainee to his Death

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A state judge dismissed a third-degree murder charge against Derek Lamont Chauvin, a former guard at Charlotte Mecklenburg County Detention Center, on Monday, saying that there was not enough evidence to go forward with the case after defense attorneys proved to the court that video of the incident did not show Chauvin’s face in any way that could connect him to the man’s fatal stab wounds.

On Aug. 2, 2016, police said the 61-year-old inmate George Floyd had died in an altercation with Chauvin, who had been accused of assault, when another inmate at the jail had grabbed Chauvin and tried to cut him with a knife. Floyd had no visible injuries. It was initially not clear whether the incident had been captured on camera. When video of the event later emerged, Chauvin’s attorneys said it showed Chauvin had tried to escort Floyd to a bathroom. The defense also produced a security video that the attorneys argued showed Floyd attacking Chauvin and Chauvin defending himself.

It was also not immediately clear why Floyd was held in a medical unit of the jail, where his body and that of his son were found Aug. 2.

In June, Senior Judge J.E. Langston had tossed out two counts of murder after a violent confrontation among prisoners at the jail in 2015, and a mistrial was declared in the case of one of the men charged in that incident. But the defense brought a new case, calling back Andrew Krueger to the stand to recant his earlier testimony that he had taken Chauvin’s phone to distract him from the attack on Chauvin. The defense relied heavily on Krueger to establish that Chauvin had not witnessed the attack and that he had acted in self-defense.

“It is our belief Mr. Chauvin’s self-defense defense was supported by overwhelming evidence,” Jay Mohr, Chauvin’s attorney, said outside the courtroom. “This case is based on the phrase ‘unknown attacker’; we’ve proven that. We’ve proven the defendant was not attacked by a stranger.”

Judge Don D. Singleton ruled that the video, which showed the two men grappling with each other, did not show what happened at the end of the scuffle, where the two men fell to the ground and Floyd strangled himself.

Chauvin and Krueger were not charged in the 2015 fight, but one of Chauvin’s attackers had pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to three years’ probation. The other attacker, Jonathan Jee, is still awaiting trial. He was sentenced to five years in prison in July after pleading guilty to assault inflicting serious injury, a felony, in connection with the 2015 fight.

I write this NOT to denigrate the hardworking men and women of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office and the attorneys for Lamb to whom I have the utmost respect. I write it today, however, to acknowledge the effort they put forth in helping to hold Mr. Chauvin accountable.

Without their hard work, we would not be here today. I wish I could give you a dollar amount for their efforts, because I don’t have one.

I just want to say this: Chadwick and Mark Fletcher are outstanding people who I learned a lot from. And they have not done what I thought they would do for me. They are good people with good heart and I will always value what they’ve done for me. I appreciate their service, and I think about it.

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