Dec 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Derek Chauvin pleads guilty to federal civil rights charges

Law enforcement officials escorting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in September 2020.
Law enforcement officials escorting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in September 2020. Photo: David Joles/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two federal civil rights charges, including the use of excessive force against George Floyd last year by pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

Why it matters: Chauvin previously pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from Floyd's murder, which were issued by a federal grand jury in May.

  • Chauvin also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy during an arrest in 2017, AP reports.
  • Prosecutors recommended a sentence of up to 25 years, which would likely keep Chauvin behind bars beyond his initial sentence for murder.

Flashback: Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death in April and was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison in June.

The big picture: The grand jury said Chauvin willfully violated Floyd's constitutional right to be free from an unreasonable seizure and the use of unreasonable force by a police officer and by failing to aid Floyd, who needed medical assistance.

  • It said that former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao, who were at the scene of Floyd's murder, also willfully deprived Floyd of his rights by not intervening to prevent the unreasonable seizure and for failing to provide aid.
  • The other three former officers still face a federal trial.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the sentencing recommendation and more details about the charges.

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