Derek Chauvin can’t afford defence in civil rights case

Eric Nelson will be returning to represent the former police officer in the federal trial

Key moments from the Derek Chauvin murder trial

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, is apparently unable to afford to hire an attorney to defend him against civil rights charges stemming from the incident.

Insider reports that a federal judge deemed Chauvin "financially unable" to fund his defense in a ruling on Tuesday.

US Magistrate Judge Beck Thorson wrote in a court filing that she would be appointing Eric Nelson, who acted as Chauvin's defence attorney in his state murder trial.

Chauvin made his first appearance in federal court on Tuesday where he stands accused of using his power as a law enforcement officer to violate Mr Floyd's civil rights, which are protected under federal law. He is also facing charges he did the same to a 14-year-old boy he is accused of restraining in 2017.

A grand jury voted to indict Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers involved in Mr Floyd's death on the federal charges last month.

The former police officer is facing up to 40 years in prison. His sentencing hearing is slated for 25 June.

Chauvin waived his right to a detention hearing on the civil rights charges, saying "in light of my current circumstances, I think that would be a moot point”.

During the procedural hearing, Chauvin said he understood his rights and the charges that were being brought against him. He also confirmed that he wished to be represented by Mr Nelson.

Though Chauvin's deadly encounter with Mr Floyd is well known, his incident with the teenager has largely flown under the radar.

Prosecutors claim that videos from the 2017 arrest show Chauvin striking the teenager in the head and then pinning him to the ground using his knee, ignoring the teen's complaints that he could not breath.

Chauvin has yet to enter a plea regarding his civil rights charges and an arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

According to court documents, Mr Nelson is seeking a downward sentencing departure from Judge Peter Cahill, who will decide Chauvin's sentencing in his state case.

Mr Nelson arged that "the requisite substantial and compelling circumstances for a downward dispositional departure are present in this case and urges this court to grant its motions and impose a probationary sentence, limiting his incarceration to time served, or in the alternative, a downward durational departure in crafting its sentence for Mr. Chauvin."

J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao – all former Minneapolis officers who were present during Mr Floyd's death – made their first appearances in federal court on 7 May. They are preparing to go to trial over charges of aiding and abetting the murder and manslaughter of Mr Floyd, which is scheduled for March 2022.

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