Derek Chauvin indictment: Boy, 14, held by throat, hit with flashlight in 2017

Derek Chauvin has been indicted on federal civil rights charges for a 2017 incident in which he’s accused of holding a 14-year-old boy down by the throat and striking the child multiple times in the head with a flashlight. 

These federal charges come at the same time as a separate indictment charging Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers -- Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao -- with federal civil rights crimes for their roles in the death of George Floyd.

Prosecutors filed a motion to admit the 2017 case against Chauvin as evidence in his Hennepin County criminal trial for Floyd’s murder, but Judge Peter Cahill denied that motion. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20, following about 10 hours of jury deliberations.

The indictment in the 2017 case charges Chauvin with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. The brief, three-page indictment includes the following allegations:

Chauvin, "while acting under color of law, willfully deprived Juvenile 1 of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer. Specifically, Defendant Chauvin, without legal justification, held Juvenile 1 by the throat and struck Juvenile 1 multiple times in the head with a flashlight. This offense includes the use of a dangerous weapon – a flashlight – and resulted in bodily injury to Juvenile 1."

Also, that Chauvin "held his knee on the neck and upper back of Juvenile 1 even after Juvenile 1 was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting."

A memo filed on Nov. 16, 2020 in Chauvin's murder trial in support of submitting "evidence of other acts" included proof for 18 different incidents involving the four former officers involved in the death of George Floyd, including the 2017 incident involving the 14-year-old boy.

Captured on bodycam

This incident was captured on body-worn camera, but that video has not been released. The state’s memo cites written reports from Chauvin, described as follows:

Chauvin was dispatched to a domestic assault call. The alleged victim told the officers that she had been assaulted by her two minor children, a son and daughter. The officers located the juvenile male laying on the floor in the back of the house. The officers advised the juvenile male that he was under arrest, but he did not comply with commands and directions from the officers. According to Chauvin, the juvenile male "then displayed active resistance to efforts to take him into custody" by "flailing his arms around." The juvenile male, whom Chauvin described as "approximately 6’2" and at least 240 pounds," backed himself into a corner and "stretched his legs forward." Chauvin attempted to grab the juvenile male’s arms, but he would "continue to struggle and flail his arms around." In his report, Chauvin wrote that he believed the juvenile male would "escalate his efforts to not be arrested," and because of the juvenile male’s large size, Chauvin "deliver[ed] a few strikes to [the juvenile male] to impact his shoulders and hopefully allow control to be obtained." Chauvin believed the juvenile male was "still providing active resistance," but another officer was able to get one handcuff on the juvenile male. As the male kept pulling his arms in front of his body, Chauvin "applied a neck restraint," and then was "able to roll [the juvenile male] onto his stomach and grab his left wrist so that cuffing could be completed." Chauvin then "used body weight to pin [the juvenile male] to the floor." During this time, the alleged victim came into the room and yelled at the officers. The juvenile male had blood coming from his left ear, so the officers requested an ambulance. Paramedics determined that the juvenile male needed stitches, and he was transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center. 

State: Bodycam video ‘far more violent’

The state’s filing said the body-worn camera videos "show a far more violent and forceful treatment of this child than Chauvin describes in his report. The videos show Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force towards this child and complete disdain for his well-being."

According to the state’s description of the bodycam video, Officers Walls and Chauvin entered a home and began speaking with the boy’s mother, who said she wanted her children removed from the house. After speaking to the mother for 36 minutes, Chauvin and Walls walked toward the 14-year-old’s bedroom. Officer Walls told the boy to come out of the bedroom and to stand up because he was under arrest.

The boy said he was not under arrest, added that his mother was drunk and had assaulted him. The child tried to talk with the officers about his mother, but Officer Walls said he would not tell him one more time to stand up and yelled "stand up." The child said they could not touch him in his own house.

According to the state’s description of the video, both officers grabbed the boy 33 seconds after telling him to come out of the room. Officer Walls told the boy to get on his stomach, and when he did not, Chauvin hit the boy with his flashlight. This happened 8 seconds after they first grabbed the boy. 

Boy called out for mom

"Two seconds later, Chauvin grabbed the child’s throat and hit him again in the head with his flashlight," the memo states. "The child cried out that they were hurting him, and to stop, and called out ‘mom.’"

Chauvin told Officer Walls to use his Taser on the boy, but Walls did not have a Taser. Chauvin then applied a neck restraint, causing the child to lose consciousness and go to the ground. Chauvin and Walls placed him in the prone position and handcuffed him behind his back "while the child’s mother pleaded with them not to kill her son and told her son to stop resisting."

Can't breathe

The description of the video continues:

"About a minute after going to the ground, the child began repeatedly telling the officers that he could not breathe, and his mother told Chauvin to take his knee off her son. About one minute later, the child’s mother pointed out that her son had said he could not breathe, and told Chauvin again to take his knee off the child as he was already handcuffed. Chauvin replied that he was a big guy and did not move. The mother asked a third time for Chauvin to take his knee off her son, and Chauvin replied that the child was breathing. The mother repeated that her son was in handcuffs, and told Chauvin a fourth time that he should take his knee off her son. The mother also said that Chauvin had hit her son with a flashlight and hurt him, and he was handcuffed now and could not do anything. But Chauvin maintained his position. Shortly thereafter, the child told his mother she should go sit on the couch, as he was alright. The mother said ok, and added that the officer had hit the child with a flashlight for no reason."

Chauvin is currently at the Oak Park Heights, Minnesota maximum security prison awaiting a June 25 sentencing for the murder of George Floyd.