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Court: Source of Chauvin grand jury leak can't be determined

The court expressed disappointment that the source of the leak could not be found, but said nothing more can be done.
Credit: KARE
Stock Image - The Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis, MN.

MINNEAPOLIS — After months of investigation, the U.S. District Court in Minnesota said it is unable to determine the source of a leak during grand jury proceedings in 2021, as it considered whether to indict Derek Chauvin and three other former MPD officers with violating George Floyd's civil rights. 

In new court documents filed publicly on Friday, the court has now ordered the matter closed.

According to the court documents, an article published in the New York Times in February 2021 and a later article published by the Star Tribune in April 2021 "contained reference to 'matter[s] occurring before the grand jury'" before any formal indictments were issued. In response, the court opened an inquiry into whether "any individual bound by ... confidentiality" had leaked information to reporters.

The court said the Justice Department, FBI, U.S. Marshals, and Minnesota Attorney General's Office each conducted internal investigations, and the FBI conducted an external investigation. More than 150 sworn declarations were collected from federal and state officials who denied involvement or knowledge of the matter, according to the court, and investigations into documents, emails and electronic devices "did not turn up any evidence of any violations." 

The court cited two likely factors in its inability to determine the source of the leak: the large number of people involved in the state and federal cases against Chauvin and his fellow former Minneapolis police officers; and Justice Department policy that blocked the FBI from obtaining evidence from the reporters involved.

"The Court is disappointed that the sources of the grand‐jury information were not identified, particularly because one or more of those sources may have committed a crime and may have been a prosecutor or law‐enforcement officer who had sworn to uphold the law," the court wrote on Friday, in an order signed by Chief Judge Patrick J. Schiltz. "At this point, however, the Court reluctantly acknowledges that there is nothing more that can be done to identify the sources of the grand‐jury material."

Chauvin was indicted in May 2021 on federal charges of violating George Floyd's civil rights, days after being convicted on state charges of second-degree murder. Chauvin later pleaded guilty in federal court, and was sentenced to 21 years in prison, to be served concurrently with his state murder sentence. Former officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were also indicted on similar federal charges, and found guilty at trial in early 2022.

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