The prosecutor who first charged former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death was forced to sell his home and upped security measures after crowds of hundreds to over 1,000 protesters repeatedly showed up at his doorstep last summer, according to a report.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office charged Chauvin in the death of Floyd on May 29, 2020, four days after a viral bystander video captured the Minneapolis police officer with his knee pressed to the handcuffed Black man’s neck for several minutes on Memorial Day.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison quickly took over prosecution for the case, but large crowds maintained their presence outside Freeman’s home in Minneapolis he owned for 13 years. The protesters claimed Freeman was not being impartial and appeared to be siding with the police.
Amid a barrage of public criticism communicated via email, phone calls and social media, Hennepin County spent about $19,000 in salary and overtime costs for sheriff’s deputies to provide security for Freeman between May 27 and early June 2020, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported, citing the county attorney’s office and financial records obtained by the newspaper.
Freeman’s office has received nearly 4 million emails and 29,000 voicemails regarding Chauvin’s case, most of which were received in the first two weeks after Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. The county also spent another $9,385 to contract a private firm to conduct a safety review for an assistant county attorney involved in the case in order to evaluate any potential danger in the official’s normal routine.
In this March 30, 2016, file photo, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman speaks at a news conference in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Freeman’s office still assists Ellison with the case involving Floyd’s death.
Though he has not publicly provided a reason, Freeman placed his Minneapolis home for sale in July 2020 at $749,000, according to online real estate records. The house, which sustained damages over several months, did not sell until December 2020 for $600,000 — less than the $629,000 Freeman and his wife purchased it for in 2007.
In January, 2021, the Minneapolis City Assessor’s office appraised the house at $826,000 the month after Freeman sold the home.
Last summer, activists launched a campaign named “Recall Mike Freeman,” regularly showing up to protests outside the attorney’s home to gather signatures from Hennepin County residents — though the group has said it was not responsible for organizing such demonstrations. Activists took issue with remarks made by Freeman at a press conference held on May 28, 2020.
“It’s a violation of my ethics to talk about and evaluate evidence before a charging decision and I will not do that,” Freeman said at the time. “I will say this: that that video is graphic and horrific and terrible and no person should do that. But my job in the end is to prove that [Chauvin] violated criminal statute.”
His office charged Chauvin the next day and issued a statement saying his remarks were being misinterpreted and he meant it was favorable to the prosecution’s case to review all evidence.
Freeman, whose term is up in 2022, has charged two officers in civilian death — Chauvin and Mohamed Noor, who was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. But activists claim the attorney failed to charge other officers in the deaths of Black men such as Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police in 2015.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office did not immediately return a Fox News request for comment.
Another official, Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, has also been a subject of public criticism after ruling Floyd’s cause of death as cardiopulmonary arrest. Floyd’s family attorneys hired private doctors to conduct an independent autopsy which ruled the cause of death as mechanical asphyxia. Both autopsies ruled the manner of death as homicide.
The medical examiner’s office declined to confirm to Fox News on any active or inactive cases involving potential threats to officials.
The office “cannot comment on specific threats to individuals, employees, or on the nature and volume of those threats,” a Hennepin County spokesperson said in an email. “Any threats to the facility or employees were reported to the authorities for proper investigation.”
“Hennepin County’s role in the trial is to ensure that the Fourth Judicial District Court can conduct business in a safe and effective manner,” the statement continued. “In order to do that, it is necessary to restrict access to the Hennepin County Government Center to court-related services. Additional security measures have been implemented inside and outside the building.”