Officials: Barr blocked officer plea deal in George Floyd death

Former Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Native Americans are targets of voter suppression too MORE personally intervened to scuttle a deal in which the Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd would have pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The deal, which Derek Chauvin was prepared to take, would have taken any federal charges off the table and could have resulted in a sentence of up to 10 years. However, Barr believed it was still too early in the investigation to extend such an offer, and that allowing it would appear overly lenient, the Times reported.

Chauvin having discussions of a plea agreement were previously reported, but the earlier reports had not included the detail that he was prepared to plead to a specific charge.

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Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died on May 25 after Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes over Floyd’s pleas that he was unable to breathe. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter May 29, but two days later Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonAttorneys general looking into online fundraising practices Minnesota AG asks judge to acknowledge trauma of children who witnessed Floyd's death Sunday shows preview: Moderates, Biden reach deal on infrastructure; Chauvin sentenced to 22.5 years in prison MORE (D) took control of the case and amended the charge to second-degree murder.

Also on Thursday, Judge Peter Cahill, who is handling Chauvin’s case, declined to reinstate the third-degree murder charge after prosecutors requested its restoration.

The prosecutors had cited a recent decision upholding the conviction of former Minneapolis Officer Mohamed Noor on the same charge. Noor was convicted in the 2017 shooting of an unarmed woman who had called 911, which the prosecutors argued set precedent that could be used to reinstate the charge in the Chauvin case, according to the AP.

Floyd’s death led to several months of demonstrations, first in Minneapolis and eventually across the U.S. These have included both peaceful protests and violent riots, although research has indicated 93 percent of the demonstrations were peaceful.

City officials are bracing for Chauvin’s trial, which is set to begin jury selection March 8. Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzHalf of states now restrict conversion therapy for LGBTQ kids Minnesota state lawmaker facing calls to resign following domestic violence, indecent exposure allegations Minnesota governor signs executive order restricting conversion therapy MORE (D) has requested $4.2 million in security funds, according to the Times.