Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges after violating George Floyd’s civil rights. The former Minneapolis police officer chose the plea instead of going through another high-profile trial after he was convicted in April by a state jury of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
According to NBC News, Chauvin, 45, wore an orange prison jumpsuit as he entered the guilty plea during the hearing in St. Paul, Minnesota. The new plea comes three months after he initially pleaded not guilty to stripping Floyd of his rights when Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes while detaining him in May 2020.
Federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson that the former police officer agreed to plead guilty to using excessive force on Floyd. Though this wasn’t the first time Chauvin deprived someone of their civil rights during an altercation, he also admitted wrongdoing in a separate encounter with a 14-year-old boy when he denied him of his civil rights during a meeting in September 2017. He initially pleaded not guilty in September to that case, in which he was accused of holding the teenager, who is Black, by the throat and pounding his head multiple times with a flashlight.
Chauvin told the judge in response to changing his pleas, saying, “Guilty, your honor.”
He will remain in prison on a 22 1/2-year sentence for the state case. The sentence is a rare outcome and one of the longest enacted on a police officer for a killing in the line of duty, NBC reported.
Magnuson stated that Chauvin was facing the maximum sentence of life in prison if he didn’t take responsibility for his actions in his federal case. Therefore, he will receive a reduced sentence after accepting a plea deal.
During Wednesday’s hearing, federal prosecutors called for Chauvin to serve 20 to 25 years in federal prison, along with five years of supervised probation and agreeing to never work again as a police officer. His federal sentence would be served jointly with his state sentence.
Magnuson is expected to sentence Chauvin at a later date.
“Members of Floyd’s family and relatives of Chauvin, including his ex-wife, were in the courtroom when Chauvin pleaded guilty. The teenager mentioned in the second civil rights complaint was also present. According to the pool report, after the legal proceedings ended, Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd told the teenager, “It’s a good day for justice.” “
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, did not immediately comment about the hearing.
After the hearing ended, Floyd’s family attended a news conference, stating that they welcomed the possibility that Chauvin’s prison sentence might be a few years longer, depending on what the judge decides. But his guilty pleas do not change the ongoing pain, Philonise Floyd said.
“We just wanted accountability because we can never get justice because we can never get George back,” he added.
Jeff Storms, a lawyer for the Floyd family, said this is no “complete closure” in the case.
Former officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who were at the scene during Floyd’s death, were also included in the federal indictment. They pleaded not guilty in September and could go on trial in January.
Lane, Kueng, and Thao were all fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and face a state trial next year on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.