ST. PAUL, Minn. Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a federal charge that he used his position as a Minneapolis police officer to violate George Floyd’s constitutional rights, a move expected to extend Mr. Chauvin’s time in prison beyond a decades-long state sentence for murdering Mr. Floyd.
Mr. Chauvin, 45, pleaded guilty in U.S. court in St. Louis. Paul, a look that was most likely among the longest periods he has spent outside a prison cell since a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in April. Since then, he has been held in solitary confinement in Minnesota’s only maximum-security prison, where he is allowed to leave his 10-foot by 10-foot cell for an hour a day.
A federal prosecutor said in court that the government had entered into a complaints agreement with Mr Chauvin, under which prosecutors would seek to have him jailed for 25 years. That sentence would run concurrently with his state verdict, meaning it would extend Mr. Chauvin’s prison sentence of about two and a half years.
Under the proposed judgment and the rules of credit for good conduct, the earliest Mr. Chauvin will be released from prison probably around 2042, when he would be in his mid-60s. The verdict will ultimately be up to a judge at a later court hearing.
When Mr. Chauvin entered the courtroom, wearing an orange jumpsuit, he acknowledged that his mother and other family members were sitting in court. During the case, Mr Chauvin answered a series of questions from Judge Paul Magnuson and a prosecutor about the terms of the agreement.
Allen Slaughter, a federal prosecutor in Minnesota, asked Mr. Chauvin: “When Mr. Floyd was lying on the ground, handcuffed and not resisting, did you keep your knees on Mr. Floyd’s neck and body, even after Mr. Floyd did not respond, correctly?”
“Correct,” replied Mr. Chauvin. He also agreed that his actions had caused Mr. Floyd’s death.
The terms of the grievance agreement require Mr. Chauvin to serve his time in a federal prison, which is generally considered safer and could separate Mr. Chauvin from prisoners he may have arrested. The agreement would also ban Mr. Chauvin, who was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department a day after Mr. Floyd’s death, ever to work as a police officer again.
Mr. Chauvin, who is white, admitted in court that he had violated the constitutional right of Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, to be free from unreasonable seizures, which include unreasonable power from a police officer. Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes in May 2020, when a handcuffed Mr. Floyd lay face down on a street corner in South Minneapolis.
Mr. Chauvin also pleaded guilty Wednesday another federal indictment violation of a 14-year-old boy’s constitutional right in 2017 and accepted that he had held the boy by the throat, hit him in the head with a flashlight and pressed his knee to the neck of the teenager, who is black. without justification. The teenager, who has not been publicly identified, was sitting in the courtroom during the case, as were relatives of Mr. Floyd did.
Outside the courthouse, Mr. Floyd’s relatives that they were glad that Mr. Chauvin had accepted responsibility and would likely serve more time in jail, but they added that little had changed for their family. Brandon Williams, one of Mr. Floyd’s nephews said prosecutors should have charged Mr. Chauvin in 2017 for the assault on the teenager, rather than in May, where they also accused him of Mr. Floyd’s death.
“If he had been held accountable for what he did in 2017 to the minor, George Floyd would still be here,” Mr. Williams. “Today he had a chance to kiss and give air hugs to his family. We can not do that to our loved one who is not here.”
Mr. Floyd’s relatives left the courthouse to return to Minneapolis, where they have supported the family of Daunte Wright, a black man who was killed shot by a white police officer during a traffic jam in a Minneapolis suburb in April. Kimberly Potter, the officer who later resigned, was charged with manslaughter and is currently on trial.
Mr. Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, som defended his son when a judge convicted him of murder in June, did not answer a journalist’s question as she left the courthouse on Wednesday.
The aftermath of George Floyd’s assassination
What happened to George Floyd? On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officers arrested Mr. Floyd, a black man, on a report that he had used a counterfeit $ 20 note. Mr. Floyd died after Derek Chauvin, one of the police officers, squeezed him to the ground with a knee, an episode that was recorded on video.
At that sentencing in June, Sir. Chauvin appeared to be referring to a potential appeals deal with federal prosecutors as he offered his condolences to Mr. Chauvin. Floyd’s family and said he hoped future events would give the family “some peace of mind.”
Many legal experts said the federal government’s case against him was strong, and a conviction during the trial could have resulted in a life sentence.
The plea will also spare Minneapolis residents from the ghost of an additional lawsuit, though there are still several more lawsuits related to Mr. Floyd’s death.
Mr. Floyd was a grandfather, a former rapper and a security guard who had lost his job at a nightclub when it closed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The shocking footage of him gasping for air under a passive Mr. Chauvin ignited protests in cities around the world, leading to the firing and arrest of Mr. Chauvin. Chauvin and three other officers on site.
Federal prosecutors have charged the other officers – Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – with violating Mr. Floyd’s civil rights in a case expected to be heard in January.
Mr. Chauvin’s guilty plea could be welcome news for the officers who had tried to remove Mr Chauvin from their joint federal trial because they feared he would hurt the jury. These officers are also facing state allegations that they aided and abetted both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after responding to a 911 call from a grocery store clerk who said that Mr. Floyd had used a counterfeit $ 20 note to buy cigarettes.