Chauvin pleads guilty in federal court to violating George Floyd’s civil rights

Minnesota Department of Corrections Derek Chauvin

In a federal courthouse in St. Paul, Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to brutally treating people under his custody in 2017 and 2020.

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was charged with violating the civil rights of a juvenile in 2017 and for the murder of George Floyd in 2020. In both incidents, he knelt on the necks of his victims, even after they were handcuffed.

Counts two and three, which charge Chauvin with violating the civil rights of the juvenile, were reduced to misdemeanors.

After the proceedings concluded, somber members of the Floyd family gathered to talk with reporters outside of the courthouse. Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams, in response to Chauvin admitting his actions, said, “I don’t know. I think it’s the first time, so, hearing him accept accountability was nice. But I didn’t feel a thing.”

Photo by Henry Pan (l-r)  George Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams; brothers Terrence, Philonise, and Rodney Floyd, and attorney Jeff Storms

The prosecution recommends a sentence of 25 years. He also faces a $500,000 fine, up to five years of supervised release, and would have to pay for the costs associated with it. Any federal sentence would be served concurrently with his current state sentence, and likely in federal prison. He is serving 22 and a half years in state prison for the murder of Floyd, and can never be a police officer again.

Without a plea deal, Chauvin would have faced life in prison. Sentencing will occur once a presentencing report, ordered by Judge Roy Magnusson, has been completed. 

“We were in court with a minor who he also pled guilty to charges of assault to him. And after hearing the details of it, the guy’s a monster. He should have been arrested in 2017 and had justice and had he been held accountable for what he did in 2017 to that minor, George Floyd would still be here,” Williams added.

The plea agreement allows Chauvin’s case to be separated from the three other officers who are charged with aiding and abetting him. The officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, face a federal trial in January and a state trial in March.