Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating George Floyd’s civil rights, avoiding a trial but likely extending the time he is already serving on a state conviction.
Chauvin, a white man, was convicted in April of state murder and manslaughter charges for pressing his knee over Floyd’s neck during an arrest on May 25, 2020, while the black man claimed he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin was sentenced to 2212 years in that case.
The federal allegations included two counts saying that Chauvin violated Floyd’s rights by kneeling on his neck while arrested and without resisting, and then neglecting to offer medical care.
Chauvin appeared in person for the change of plea hearing on Wednesday, wearing an orange short-sleeve jail shirt. To confirm his pleas, he said, “Guilty, your honour.”
Federal prosecutors recommended up to 300 months, or 25 years, in prison. A judge will determine his sentence later, but a 25-year federal sentence would likely extend Chauvin’s time behind bars by about six years if he earns credit for good behaviour.
Judge Paul Magnuson didn’t set a date for sentencing.
Three other former officers – Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao – were indicted on federal charges alongside Chauvin earlier this year. They are still on course for trial early next year on those charges, with a state trial still to come.
Floyd’s arrest and death, which a bystander captured on cell phone video, spurred widespread protests demanding for an end to racial inequity and police maltreatment of black people.
In Minnesota, good-behavior defendants serve two-thirds of their sentence in jail and the remaining one-third on supervised release, also known as parole. According to that formula, he faces 15 years in jail on state charges and 712 years on parole.