St. Paul, MN – Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to violating George Floyd’s civil rights when he used excessive force.
Chauvin initially pleaded not guilty in May when he and three other former Minneapolis police officers were indicted by a federal grand jury, according to Axios.
By pleading guilty to the federal charges, Chauvin will avoid another lengthy and expensive trial and may get a lesser sentence, NBC News reported.
However, he will likely have time added on to the sentence he is already serving for Floyd’s murder.
A Hennepin County jury found Chauvin guilty on April 20 after less than 12 hours of deliberations.
He was sentenced to 270 months, or 22-and-a half years, in prison.
Chauvin appeared in federal court in St. Paul on Dec. 15 to change his plea to guilty and federal prosecutors told the judge that the former officer had agreed to plead guilty to using excessive force on Floyd, NBC News reported.
He also pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in a separate federal indictment over an incident with a 14-year-old boy in 2017.
Chauvin had originally pleaded not guilty in that case as well.
Magnuson said that without that plea deal with prosecutors, Chauvin would have possibly spent the rest of his life in prison, NBC News reported.
Prosecutors asked Magnuson to sentence Chauvin to 20-to-25 years in federal prison, with five years of supervised probation.
The federal sentence would be served concurrently with his state sentence for Floyd’s murder, NBC News reported.
As part of the agreement, Chauvin has to agree to never work as a police officer again.
Magnuson will sentence Chauvin at a later hearing that has not yet been scheduled, NBC News reported.
Earlier reports also had Chauvin negotiating to serve his sentences in federal prison rather than a Minnesota state facility.
Former Minneapolis Police Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane, and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder and have been scheduled to stand trial together on the state charges in Hennepin County next March.
The May 6 federal indictment charged Chauvin, Thao, and Kueng each with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, NBC News reported.
Lane was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
Thao and Kueng were charged with failing to intervene in Chauvin’s unreasonable use of force, CNN reported.
All of the former police officers were federally charged for failing to render medical aid to Floyd.
The grand jury also handed down two counts against Chauvin related to a 2017 arrest he made of a 14-year-old boy who had been attacking his family members.
“Chauvin, without legal justification, held the teenager by the throat and struck the teenager multiple times in the head with a flashlight,” federal prosecutors said in a statement, according to NBC News.
The statement said that Chauvin “held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager even after the teenager was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting, also resulting in bodily injury.”
Prior to Chauvin pleading guilty, Kueng, Thao, and Lane’s defense attorneys have asked the judge to separate their clients’ federal trials from Chauvin’s and claimed the other former officers would be unfairly prejudiced if they stood trial beside the already-convicted murderer, NBC News reported.
Prosecutors opposed the separation of the trials.
The federal trial is gearing up to begin in the federal courthouse in St. Paul.
Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 after officers responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that he had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.