The former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a federal court to charges he violated George Floyd’s civil rights, likely extending his prison sentence after his earlier conviction for the Black man’s murder.
Chauvin, 45, appeared in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota, in an orange jumpsuit to waive his right to a trial by changing his plea to guilty in an agreement with prosecutors.
A state judge had already sentenced Chauvin to 22-1/2 years in prison earlier this year after a jury convicted him for the 2020 murder of Floyd, and he has since been held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security Minnesota prison.
Chauvin, who is white, was seen in videos recorded by horrified onlookers kneeling on the handcuffed Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in a brutal arrest on a Minneapolis street corner on May 25, 2020, igniting one of the largest protest movements ever seen in the United States.
Federal prosecutors told the court on Wednesday that the sentencing guidelines call for Chauvin to spend 20 to 25 years in prison, according to Minneapolis news channel WCCO-TV.
They said that under the plea agreement they would ask the judge for 25 years, with the sentence to run concurrently, meaning Chauvin would extend his current prison term by about two years.
Federal prosecutors said he would be moved to a federal prison, which are often perceived to be safer than their state counterparts.
District Judge Paul Magnuson said he would hold a sentencing hearing at a later date, where Chauvin and Floyd’s relatives will have a chance to address the court.
Chauvin, who originally pleaded not guilty in September, signed the plea agreement in court, which also requires him to pay restitution, with the amount yet to be determined, WCCO-TV report. He also agreed he would never again be licensed as a law enforcement officer.
He was asked by prosecutors if he willfully deprived Floyd of a constitutional right and whether he had his knee on Floyd even after the man was unconscious.
“Correct,” Chauvin replied.
His April conviction in state court on charges of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter was seen by many as a landmark rebuke of the disproportionate use of police force against Black Americans.
Chauvin and three other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — were arresting Floyd on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
Lane, Kueng and Thao were also fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and face charges in a state trial due to begin in March that they aided and abetted the killing of Floyd. The three also still face a federal trial in January on charges they deprived Floyd of his constitutional right to be “free from unreasonable seizure.”
The indictment said Thao and Kueng violated Floyd’s rights by not intervening to stop Chauvin from kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and that all the officers involved showed deliberate indifference to Floyd’s serious medical needs.
Chauvin had also pleaded not guilty to federal charges of violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy he arrested in 2017, but prosecutors told the court on Wednesday that indictment would be dismissed, WCCO-TV reported.
(Reporting by Julia Harte and Jonathan Allen in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Mark Porter and Lisa Shumaker)