Minneapolis officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck was in plea bargain talks

Image: Derek Chauvin (Hennepin County Jail / via AFP - Getty Images)
Image: Derek Chauvin (Hennepin County Jail / via AFP - Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS - The police officer shown on video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd prior to his death in custody was in talks to strike a plea bargain before his arrest, officials said Wednesday.

The legal team for Derek Chauvin, who was fired from the Minneapolis police force after Floyd's detainment and death on May 25, was in negotiations with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office and the federal prosecutor, said Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

“Ultimately, the negotiations failed,” Laszewski said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the matter Wednesday.

Chauvin was arrested May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. A charge of second-degree murder was added on June 3. Three other officers at the scene of Floyd's detainment were also arrested on June 3 and charged with aiding and abetting murder.

The negotiations for a plea deal for Chauvin were why a widely-watched news conference was delayed by almost two hours on the day the former officer was arrested, according to Laszewski. The spokesman would not specify why a plea agreement was not reached or what offer may have been on the table.

“I thought we would have another development to talk to you about, but we don’t,” U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said at the start of that press conference.

Eric Nelson, a defense lawyer for Chauvin, declined comment to NBC News on Wednesday.

Floyd's death, recorded by police body cameras and cellphones of passersby, ignited protests across the globe against systemic racism and police brutality.

The state of Minnesota has launched a sweeping civil rights probe of the Minneapolis Police Department and the city has vowed to dismantle the department.

Gabe Gutierrez reported from Minneapolis and David K. Li from New York