Updated Jul 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Derek Chauvin sentenced to 21 years in federal civil rights case

derek chauvin
Officers escort Chauvin from the rear of the Family Justice Center in Minneapolis after a September 2020 hearing. Photo: David Joles/Star Tribune via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to 21 years in prison with credit for time already served for charges that included violating the civil rights of George Floyd, MPR News reports.

The big picture: Chauvin pleaded guilty in December 2021 to two federal civil rights charges, including the use of excessive force when he kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes in May 2020.

  • A second count involved his alleged conduct toward a 14-year-old arrested in 2017, when he "held the boy by the throat, hit him in the head with a flashlight and held his knee on the boy’s neck and upper back while he was prone, handcuffed and not resisting," according to the AP.

Context: Chauvin has been serving a separate, 22.5-year sentence for his conviction on state murder and manslaughter charges for the murder of Floyd and was placed in solitary confinement at a maximum-security prison in Minnesota.

  • Under the terms of his plea deal, he will serve both sentences concurrently and will move from state prison to federal prison.

What they're saying: “I really don’t know why you did what you did,” U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said from the bench, according to The AP. “To put your knee on a person’s neck until they expired is simply wrong. … Your conduct is wrong and it is offensive.”

What he said: Chauvin, who yet has to fully publicly address his actions, did not apologize during a brief statement.

  • Instead, he said he hopes Floyd's children have "excellent guidance in becoming good adults.”

Between the lines: The agreement means he'll likely stay behind bars longer since federal prisoners typically serve a higher percentage of their full sentence than state-level offenders in Minnesota.

  • But he'll also now serve the sentence in what's likely a safer environment, per the AP.

What to watch: Chauvin has appealed his state conviction for Floyd's murder.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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