Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is contesting his federal civil rights conviction related to the 2020 murder of George Floyd, introducing new claims about the cause of Floyd’s death. In a motion filed Monday in federal court, Chauvin, currently serving a 21-year sentence, is requesting a new trial or an evidentiary hearing based on information from Kansas pathologist Dr. William Schaetzel.
Chauvin contends that had he been aware of Schaetzel’s theories earlier, he would not have pleaded guilty in 2021. Schaetzel, who did not physically examine Floyd but reviewed autopsy reports, suggests that Floyd’s death resulted from complications of a paraganglioma, a rare tumor, rather than asphyxia caused by Chauvin kneeling on his neck.
The high-profile case, which sparked global protests and a national conversation on police brutality and racism, initially concluded with Chauvin’s guilty plea. However, Chauvin alleges that his trial attorney, Eric Nelson, and the prosecution were aware of Schaetzel’s findings but did not inform him. He accuses Nelson of failing to challenge the constitutionality of the federal charge and argues that the jury might have reached a different verdict with this evidence.
Nelson has declined to comment on the new developments. Chauvin’s appeal rights are limited to claims of ineffective counsel, according to the terms of his guilty plea.
Chauvin’s motion follows two rejections by a federal appeals court and an ongoing appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding his state court murder conviction. The case continues to attract attention, as three other former officers involved in Floyd’s death have received state and federal sentences. The court has yet to respond to Chauvin’s latest attempt to overturn his conviction.