Federal grand jury hearing evidence in death of George Floyd

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FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2021, file photo, Epilogue Kitchen & Cocktails owner Jonathan Jones speaks with customers near an image of George Floyd while serving free meals in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Salem, Ore. A financial snapshot shared exclusively with The Associated Press shows the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation took in just over $90 million last year. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

WASHINGTON – Several witnesses have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury considering charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is already facing state murder charges in the death of George Floyd, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Justice Department’s federal civil rights investigation has been focused on Chauvin and some of the witnesses, including other officers who worked with Chauvin, according to the person, who could not publicly discuss the non-public proceedings and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The New York Times first reported that a grand jury was hearing testimony against Chauvin. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Jury selection begins in Chavin's state case on March 8 — he faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges — with opening statements scheduled for March 29.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and saying he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death sparked protests in Minneapolis and beyond and led to a nationwide reckoning on race.

Three other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter and are scheduled to face trial in August. Like Chauvin, all three were fired soon after Floyd’s death.

The increased federal grand jury activity in connection with Floyd’s death comes as the Justice Department, under President Joe Biden, is expected to focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

At his confirmation hearing this week, Judge Merrick Garland, Biden’s nominee for attorney general, emphasized his commitment to combating racial discrimination in policing, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that America doesn’t “yet have equal justice.”