Following his arrest for his role in the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, police officer Derek Chauvin has found himself in the midst of another legal battle. On Friday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Dan Helm, a Democrat and attorney running for election supervisor in Pinellas County, is asking Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala to pursue charges against Chauvin for allegedly voting illegally in two Florida elections. Helm reportedly sent a letter to Ayala, which notified her of Chauvin's alleged voting record.
In his letter to Ayala, Helm reportedly cited a Florida statute that prohibits false swearing and the submission of false voter registration and added that a violation of this statute would constitute a third-degree felony. He wrote, "While living in Minnesota, working there, paying taxes there, Derek Chauvin cannot claim residency in Orange County. His home, residency and where he intends to live is in Minnesota, not Florida." Helm then encouraged Ayala to take action to "hold people accountable for their actions, especially breaking the laws of our state." After she received Helm's letter, Ayala's office contacted Bill Cowles, Orange County Supervisor of Elections, who subsequently confirmed Chauvin's voting record and history.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Chauvin registered to vote Republican in January 2016 in Orange County (Chauvin reportedly owns property in the Windemere area). His registration is active, and records show that he voted in the 2016 and 2018 elections in the state. A spokesperson from Ayala's office said in a statement regarding this news, "Upon receipt of information from a Minnesota authority that supports a violation of Florida law we will proceed accordingly. Until then, I will remain focused on the unrest in my community recently triggered by Mr. Chauvin's killing of George Floyd and work to find a solution to the systemic injustice communities of color continue to live with and die by."
Chauvin was previously arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on May 29, days after he killed Floyd by kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes. On Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that they would be elevating those charges to second-degree murder and manslaughter. Additionally, three other cops who were involved in the incident — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane — were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. Ellison said at the time, "I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community and our state."