Fired Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was moved to one of the most secure prisons in the US Sunday night to ensure he won’t be murdered behind bars, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
In a highly unusual move, Chauvin, who is facing a murder charge in the death of George Floyd, was transferred late Sunday to Oak Park Heights Prison – Minnesota’s only Level Five maximum security facility.
He was previously at Ramsey County Adult Detention Center where he was on suicide watch, before being moved to the Hennepin County Jail because of COVID-19 concerns but then moved to the high-security prison.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) told DailyMail.com that Chauvin was transferred to prison and placed in ‘administrative segregation’ – solitary confinement – after a plea from the Hennepin County Sheriff.
The 407-inmate prison boasts of never having had an escape and is also regarded as one of the country’s safest, having only had one homicide in its history. Located on the border with Wisconsin, between the cities of Bayport and Stillwater, it accepts some of America’s most hated and high-risk inmates.
Chauvin was due to appear in court on Monday but with Minneapolis still gripped by unrest the appearance was pushed back until June 8.
Commissioner of Corrections Paul Schnell said Chauvin was moved to prison because of concerns about coronavirus and the huge influx of people being booked into Twin Cities jails on public order offenses.
‘First and foremost, we have a COVID situation. Second of all, a large number of people could be booked into Hennepin County Jail,’ Schnell said.
Privately though, law enforcement sources told DailyMail.com the move was to ensure Chauvin – now America’s most hated inmate – was not murdered behind bars.
‘If he was in the general jail population he would probably be dead in two minutes,’ a source told DailyMail.com. ‘This is entirely for security purposes.’
Chauvin will be held at the prison until next Monday when authorities face the daunting challenge of keeping his first court appearance in downtown Minneapolis shielded from further unrest.
It’s highly unusual to lock defendants up in prison before they have been convicted, however officials did something similar in the case of disgraced Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor who shot dead a woman in 2017 while responding to her 911 call.
‘The move to DOC custody was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure he is safely held and after concern about space in the jail due to large numbers of arrests related to the unrest over the last few nights,’ a spokesman said.
‘The DOC also took custody of former officer Mohamed Noor during the time he was in custody before being officially committed to our custody at sentencing, after a similar request in that case.
‘The processing of his [Chauvin’s] transfer to OPH, including the taking of photos, in being completed this morning. He will appear, with official photos, on the public database of inmates after that process is completed.
‘He is being held in administrative segregation outside the general population of the facility.’
Administrative segregation, a form of solitary confinement known as ‘in the hole’, is employed when inmates are deemed to be at grave risk of being attacked by other prisoners or because they pose a significant danger to others.
According to recent data released by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the Oak Park Heights Prison currently houses 297 murderers, 69 sexual predators and eight kidnappers.
Some 46 percent of the prison population is black.
The 16-acre, rural prison is carved into the side of a hill and has been featured on the National Geographic show America’s Hardest Prisons.
Cells are 7 by 10 feet with cement slab bed and toilets and sink made of steel so they can’t be broken off to use as weapons.
The reinforced windows are said to be so secure that it would take 12,000 hacksaw blades to cut though the steel bars.
Chauvin had spent the weekend locked in solitary confinement in a heavily fortified Minnesota jail guarded by police marksmen and barbed wire barriers, DailyMail.com can reveal.
SWAT teams armed with rifles and binoculars kept lookout from the rooftop of the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center while a phalanx of Sheriff’s Deputies stood guard behind hastily erected steel fences.
Chauvin was held there Friday through Sunday because of the carnage unfolding outside jail facilities in Minneapolis.
Ramsey County deputies took no chances, sealing off the area with concrete bomb-proof barriers and mounting round the clock patrols in case protesters decided to target the jail in downtown Saint Paul.
But despite demonstrators running amok across large swathes of the Twin Cities, the expected onslaught never happened and authorities were able to quietly transfer Chauvin to downtown Minneapolis Sunday afternoon.
TMZ reported that Chauvin has a camera focused on him all day and and cops check on his cell in person every 15 minutes.
Such checks said to be common in such a high-profile case.
It has not been revealed whether the 44-year-old ex-cop, charged with the third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of unarmed Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nine agonizing minutes, will appear in person or via video link.
The disgraced former lawman is yet to post the $50,000 bond needed to get out of jail after bail was set Friday at $500,000.
He has two properties, one in the leafy Oakdale suburb of Saint Paul, the other in Windermere, Florida, worth that amount combined.
However DailyMail.com understands the homes are jointly owned by his beauty pageant winner wife Kellie, 45, who would likely resist any attempt to use them as surety after vowing Friday to divorce her husband of ten years.
Kellie Chauvin released a statement on behalf of her and her family: ‘She is devastated by Mr. Floyd’s death and her utmost sympathy lies with his family, with his loved ones and with everyone who is grieving this tragedy,’ it read.
On Sunday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says he expects Chauvin to face additional charges.
‘Let me say that we are very early in this process, very early. It is not uncommon to amend charges. It is not uncommon to add defendants,’ Ellison said Sunday, when asked how satisfied he was with the charges already filed after the incident during an interview with Fox News.
‘The fact is that the investigation is still going on and it actually, it’s actually in the middle of the investigation, or maybe even the beginning of the middle, he explains
‘And so I don’t want anyone to conclude that these are all the charges that are going be there.’
Footage emerged last Monday of Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on the neck of Floyd until he passed out and later died, sparking outrage over police brutality and setting off the protests across the nation.
According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer was said to have had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, with nearly three minutes of the time being after Floyd had become non-responsive.
Floyd was then taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Since then, protesters and Floyd’s family have called for the arrests of former officers Kueng, Lane and Thao and for a more serious charge to be brought against Chauvin.
As the protesting has continued, mayors of several cities and other officials blamed small groups and outsiders for escalating the violence.
Protesters and Floyd’s family continue to call for the arrests of former officers Kueng, Lane and Tou Thao and for a more serious charge to be brought against Chauvin.
‘We call on authorities to revise the charges [against Chauvin] to reflect the culpability of this officer,’ a statement from the family Friday said.
‘We fully expect to see the other officers who did nothing to protect the life of George Floyd to be arrested and charged soon.’
The criminal complaint filed against Chauvin Friday also cited the preliminary findings from a Tuesday autopsy conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner which saw ‘no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation’.
‘Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease,’ said the complaint from the Hennepin County Attorney.
‘The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.’
The full medical examiner’s report is pending but Floyd’s family have hired the services of former New York medical officer Dr. Michael Baden to perform a second independent autopsy.
They are unhappy with the findings from the county medical examiner that they claim create an ‘illusion’ of underlying health conditions being responsible for his death.