Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin changed his not guilty plea in the federal case against him on Wednesday, instead deciding to plead guilty to depriving George Floyd of his civil rights. The plea caps the murderer’s additional time in prison at two and a half years, according to reporter Julia Jenaé. She tweeted: “#DerekChauvin agrees to the plea details just read in open court. Max sentence of 300 months = 25 yrs. He’s already serving 22.5 year sentence for 2nd degree murder. These would run simultaneous, fed case adds 2.5 years. He faced life in prison but for the plea agreement”
Wearing a “bright orange jumpsuit,” Chauvin agreed to paying restitution of an undetermined amount and other plea terms, WCCO radio reporter Mark Freie tweeted. Chauvin was earlier convicted in state court of all charges against him after kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, outside of the Cup Foods corner store in Minneapolis. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced originally on the second-degree murder charge, equating to 22 and a half years, 15 of which are expected to be in prison considering the possibility of early release for good behavior.
In the federal case, Chauvin is charged along with accused co-conspirators Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao, all of whom pleaded not guilty and are expected in court next in January. “To bring federal charges in deaths involving police, prosecutors must believe an officer acted under the ‘color of law,’ or government authority, and willfully deprived someone of their constitutional rights,” Associated Press writer Amy Forliti wrote. “That’s a high legal standard. An accident, bad judgment or simple negligence on the officer’s part isn’t enough to support federal charges. Prosecutors have to prove the officer knew what he was doing was wrong in that moment but did it anyway.”
Federal trials for J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao (officers alongside Chauvin during Floyd’s May 2020 death) get underway next month and their state trials are set for march.
Chauvin could testify in both.
— Mark Freie (@MarkFreie) December 15, 2021
While Chauvin held Floyd face down on the pavement outside the Minneapolis convenience store, Lane held Floyd’s legs and Kueng knelt on the Black father’s back, according to witness video rolled repeatedly during Chauvin’s state trial. Thao kept onlookers at bay.
Federal officials wrote in a press release describing the charges Chauvin and other officers were indicted on:
The three-count indictment alleges that all four defendants, while acting under color of law, willfully deprived Mr. Floyd of his constitutional rights, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242. Specifically, Count One of the indictment alleges that on May 25, 2020, Chauvin held his left knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck, and his right knee on Floyd’s back and arm, as George Floyd lay on the ground, handcuffed and unresisting, and kept his knees on Mr. Floyd’s neck and body even after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive. The indictment alleges that Chauvin’s actions violated Mr. Floyd’s constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer and resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, Mr. Floyd.
Count Two of the indictment charges that Thao and Kueng willfully failed to intervene to stop Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force, resulting in bodily injury to, and the death of, Mr. Floyd. Finally, Count Three of the indictment alleges that all four defendants saw Mr. Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care and willfully failed to aid him. The indictment alleges that by doing so, all four defendants willfully deprived Mr. Floyd of his constitutional right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law, which includes an arrestee’s right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The indictment alleges that this offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, Mr. Floyd.
A separate, two-count indictment also charges Chauvin with willfully depriving a Minneapolis resident who was then fourteen-years-old of the constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242. Count One of this indictment alleges that on Sept. 4, 2017, Chauvin, without legal justification, held the teenager by the throat and struck the teenager multiple times in the head with a flashlight. The indictment alleges that this offense included the use of a dangerous weapon—a flashlight—and resulted in bodily injury to the teenager. Count Two of the indictment charges 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.
Both indictments charge violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242. 18 U.S.C. § 242 states that it is a crime for an official acting under color of law to willfully violate a person’s constitutional rights. If government employees, like police officers, use or misuse the power provided to them by their position, they are acting “under color of law.”
Published with permission from Daily Kos.