Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd, pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in a 2020 incident that sparked international outrage, changed his plea after reaching a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to serve 25 years in federal prison.
The sentence will run concurrently with the 22½-year sentence Chauvin received after being convicted on state charges of murder. Under the state sentence, Chauvin could have qualified for parole after 15 years.
However, there’s no parole for the federal sentence, effectively meaning that the 45-year-old Chauvin choose the longer sentence to avoid state prison.
Since his conviction earlier this year, Chauvin had remained in solitary confinement.
It’s believed Chauvin chose to plead guilty because federal prisons are viewed as safer, and he most likely would avoid contact with anyone he previously arrested.
Asked by the judge Wednesday how he wanted to plead, Chauvin replied, “At this time, guilty, your honor.”
In entering the guilty plea on the federal charge, Chauvin admitted he violated Floyd’s constitutional rights of being free from unreasonable seizure and the use of excessive force by a police officer.
Chauvin, who is white, knelt on a handcuffed Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, as police attempted to arrest him on Memorial Day last year on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store. He continued kneeling on Floyd, who was face-down in the street and complaining he couldn’t breathe, even after the man became unresponsive.
Three other former Minneapolis officers on the scene at the time — Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao — also face federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights. The three men expect to stand trial in January.