Derek Chauvin pleads guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights

Chauvin was convicted on state murder and manslaughter charges relating to George Floyd last spring

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 15 December 2021 19:34
Derek Chauvin to change plea in federal case
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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has pleaded guilty to federal charges alleging that he violated George Floyd's civil rights.

Chauvin has taken a plea deal that will spare him from a federal trial in January, though the deal may ultimately force him to spend more time in prison.

The former police officer was previously convicted of state murder and manslaughter for using his knee to choke and kill Mr Floyd in 2020. He was sentenced to 22 and 1/2 years in prison.

Members of Mr Floyd's family commented on the plea deal on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a long process,” Rodney Floyd, Mr Floyd’s brother, said. “But honestly, hearing what Derek Chauvin said in the courtroom, it’s not exactly what we wanted.” He believes Chauvin pleaded guilty because he was forced to by his circumstances, not because he was truly remorseful.

Mr Floyd's other brother, Philonise, said the family would never truly achieve justice because "we can never get George back."

“The fact that I lost my brother, my loved one, you know, somebody who I can count on when I was down, it hurts me and that’s something I can never take away, because I cry about it all the time — just knowing that his daughter will never be able to walk down the aisle, she will never have a daddy-daughter dance,” he said.

According to The Associated Press Chauvin appeared in court on Wednesday for a change of plea hearing, during which he pleaded guilty to violating Mr Floyd's civil rights.

Federal prosecutors recommended he receive up to 300 months – 25 years – in prison. That sentence will be determined by a judge at a later date. While the plea spares him from a trial, it does add approximately six years to his sentence.

In addition to his guilty plea, Chauvin's deal also required him to plead guilty to violating the rights of a then-14-year-old boy during a 2017 arrest. During the arrest he hit the boy in the head with a flashlight while holding him by the throat. He pinned the boy down and placed his knee on the boy's neck and upper back, not unlike what he did to Mr Floyd.

The other officers with Chauvin on the day of Mr Floyd's death – Thomas Lane, J Kueng, and Tou Thao – are also facing federal charges. Their trials will begin next year.

All four officers were charged with denying Mr Floyd his civil rights while acting under government authority. Chauvin's first count alleges he violated Mr Floyd's right to be free from an unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force from a police officer.

The second count Chauvin faces alleged that he willfully deprived Mr Floyd of his liberty without due process, including his right to be free from "deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs."

He also faces charges that he deprived the boy in 2017 his right to be free of unreasonable force.

In Minnesota, defendants are eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence, provided they showed good behaviour while incarcerated.

Based on those guidelines, Chauvin is expected to spend 15 years in prison on his state, and another 7 and 1/2 on parole. The charges stemming from the civil rights case will likely be added concurrent to his state prison time, and is expected to extend his sentence by another six years.

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