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Florida man pleads guilty to threatening to kill Chauvin's lawyer

NBC News logo NBC News 10/8/2021 Phil Helsel
© Provided by NBC News

A Florida man who threatened to kill the lawyer who defended former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty Thursday, prosecutors said.

The man, William John Hartnett, 42, of Coral Gables, made the threats in a phone call to the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association on April 6 as Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd, officials said.

Hartnett called the organization, which funded Chauvin's defense, and left a message that said in part: "you and your whole f---ing family are going to f---ing die ... for representing Chauvin," according to a criminal complaint.

Hartnett told investigators he was trying to reach Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, according to court documents.

Chauvin was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20 for killing Floyd, a Black man, in May 2020.


Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for more than 9 minutes, sparking outrage and protests across the country and around the world.

Hartnett pleaded guilty Wednesday to a count of transmitting a threat through interstate communications, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida said.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Hartnett is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 15.

Hartnett's attorney did not immediately reply to a request for comment Thursday evening.

Chauvin was sentenced to 22½ years in prison in June. Three other former Minneapolis police officers have been charged in connection with Floyd's death. They have also been charged with federal civil rights violations.


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