Attorney General William Barr blocked ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin from pleading guilty to third-degree murder in the George Floyd case, according to a report in The New York Times

Officials say Barr rejected the plea deal because it was presented days after Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020. He believed it was too soon, and that the investigation into Floyd’s death was still in its early stages.

As Floyd cried out for his mother and said that he couldn’t breathe, bystander video captured Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes. Floyd’s death sparked outrage and massive protests across the globe, with many activists calling for the defunding of police departments across the nation.

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If Barr hadn’t blocked Chauvin’s plea deal, it would have thwarted any possible federal charges, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. It would have been part of a larger effort to quickly resolve the case and therefore avoid massive protests.

Chauvin is currently scheduled to stand trial on March 8. He faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers involved in Floyd’s death will face trial later this year.

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