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

Derek Chauvin has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he violated George Floyd's constitutional rights

The former Minneapolis police officer appeared in federal court Wednesday morning to change his plea to guilty. 

Chauvin was charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free of unreasonable force by a police officer when he pressed his left knee on Floyd’s neck and held his right knee on Floyd’s back and arm as Floyd lay on the ground, handcuffed and not resisting, and continued to do even after Floyd became unresponsive.

The plea agreement combined the two federal cases Chauvin was charged in. Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to one count of the federal indictment for using excessive force against Floyd and one count in the second federal indictment for a 2017 incident involving the neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy. The rest of the charges will be dismissed. 

How long will Chauvin spend in prison?

Under the plea deal, Chauvin be sentenced to 300 months, or 25 years, in prison to be served concurrently with his state sentence. Chauvin is currently serving 22.5 years for Floyd’s murder.  

The federal judge still wants a pre-sentence investigation before he agrees to the sentence. No date has been set for Chauvin’s sentencing. 

Derek Chauvin federal charges guilty plea court

Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating George Floyd's constitutional rights during his deadly May 2020 arrest. Credit: Cedric Hohnstadt (Cedric Hohnstadt/Cedric Hohnstadt Illustration, L.L.C.)

Chauvin could testify as witness  

Chauvin’s plea means he will not stand trial with the other three former officers—J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao—in January. Chauvin’s guilty plea presents an opportunity for him to be called as a witness in that case. 

The former officers are accused of depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights while acting under government authority during his killing in May 2020. Kueng and Thao are charged with failing to intervene and all three are charged with failing to provide medical care to Floyd, resulting in his death. 

Kueng, Lane and Thao are still awaiting trial on state charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in Floyd's killing. That case was delayed to 2022 due to the federal proceedings.