Derek Chauvin has pleaded guilty in two federal civil rights cases filed against him: one involving George Floyd’s murder, the other his restraint and beating of a teenager in 2017.
The former Minneapolis police officer appeared in federal court in St. Paul Wednesday morning to enter the guilty pleas, a reversal of his previous decision to plead not guilty. By pleading guilty, Chauvin will not go on trial in either of the federal cases.
He will, however, likely face additional time in prison beyond the 22.5-year sentence he received after being found guilty on criminal charges in Minnesota earlier this year. A federal judge will sentence Chauvin at a later date. Prosecutors have asked for 300 months (25 years).
Chauvin was indicted on federal civil rights charges on May 6. The Department of Justice accused Chauvin of violating the constitutional rights of Floyd during his arrest and subsequent death outside of Cup Foods in 2020, an incident that sparked protests across the city, country and globe; and violating the constitutional rights of an unnamed teenager while the former police officer responded to a domestic assault call in 2017.
A mother called police to say her 14-year-old son had attacked her. When Chauvin and another officer arrived, the teen was lying on his back and ignored officers' orders. Chauvin then "held [him] by the throat and struck [him] multiple time in the head with a flashlight," court documents say. Hennepin County prosecutors also said Chauvin handcuffed the teen and knelt on his back for more than 15 minutes, despite the boy saying he couldn't breathe and asking to be turned on to his back.
The Department of Justice said this violated the teenager's right "to be free from an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer."
Earlier this fall, Chauvin indicated he plans to appeal his criminal conviction in Minnesota for Floyd's death.
Fellow former officers await trial
Chauvin's three fellow ex-officers who were on the scene when Floyd died — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — also face federal civil rights charges. All have pleaded not guilty.
Parties have until early next year to disclose things like witnesses, experts and more, according to court filings from Nov. 29.
Lane, Kueng and Thao also face criminal charges in Hennepin County — aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter — connected to Floyd's death. Their trial was delayed until March of 2022.
Everything described above remains separate from the Justice Department's investigation into the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department.