The former American police officer who pinned slain George Floyd‘s neck to the ground, Derek Chauvin, could still receive more than $1.5 million (approximately N581 million) in pension benefits during his retirement years even if he is convicted of murder.
Mr Chauvin, 44, sparked a global fury when he appeared in a video, taming Mr Floyd to the ground in a chokehold for nearly nine minutes until he died.
Afterwards, the Minneapolis officer was dismissed from the police where he had worked for 19 years and charged with second-degree murder amidst global activism for justice. Three other officers involved with the incident were also fired and face felony charges.
But Mr Chauvin could still cash his pension benefits in Minnesota even after he receives his punishment, a CNN finding reveals.
Unlike what is obtainable in some other states of the U.S. and other countries, Minnesota does not allow for the forfeiture of pensions for employees convicted of felony crimes related to their work.
According to the CNN, the Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association implied that Mr Chauvin would remain eligible to file for his partially taxpayer-funded pension as early as age 50, though it would not specify the specific amount he would receive.
The association reportedly said employees terminated voluntarily or for cause are eligible for future benefits unless they choose to forfeit them and receive a refund of all contributions made during their employment.
“Neither our board nor our staff have the discretion to increase, decrease, deny or revoke benefits,” a spokeswoman told CNN. “Any changes to current law would need to be done through the legislative process.”
Mr Chauvin would likely be eligible for benefits around $50,000 a year if he chose to start receiving them at age 55, according to a CNN analysis that took into account the former cop’s tenure, 2019 payroll data, contract details, pension plan guidance and the Minneapolis Police Department salary schedules.
The benefits could exceed $1.5 million over a 30-year period — and could be even higher if he received significant amounts of overtime in past years, the analysis indicates.
While two of the other officers who face charges — Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — were rookies, a third, Tou Thao, could still be eligible to receive benefits, employment records obtained by the network show.
A law professor at George Mason University who co-authored 2017 research on the matter, Bruce Johnsen,told the network that “pension forfeiture for misconduct is pretty rare.”
“With this terrible tragedy it might be a good time to push in this direction,” he added, noting that specific conditions that would allow for forfeiture would need to be carefully defined.
The Minneapolis Mayor’s Office, Police Department and the local police union did not respond to requests for comment from CNN. Neither did Mr Chauvin’s attorney.
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