Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop who murdered George Floyd last year, pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday related to the same crime, as well as kneeling on the neck of a Black teenager during a 2017 arrest.
With his guilty plea, prosecutors are asking that the disgraced cop face 300 months, or 25 years, in federal prison, which would be another 2.5 years on top of the time he’s already serving for second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder.
Chauvin initially pleaded not guilty to the federal charges three months ago, along with former Minneapolis officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao. He will not have to face trial alongside his former police colleagues come next month, but a sentencing date has not been set, according to the AP.
Chauvin is already serving 22 and a half years in prison after a Hennepin County jury convicted him of fatally kneeling on 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last year. The murder set off a summer of national protests against police brutality, particularly against the Black community.
Floyd’s murder reached national prominence in a short amount of time because of the disturbing viral bystander video. But the 2017 arrest, when Chauvin kneeled on a Black teenager’s back and neck for 17 minutes as his mother watched, only came into the federal government’s purview shortly after his conviction.
During the encounter, which was first reported by the Star Tribune in November 2020, Chauvin, who was responding to a domestic dispute, struck the boy with his flashlight before grabbing him by the throat and hitting him with the flashlight several more times.
Chauvin then handcuffed the teen and applied the restraint with his knee. The teen told the officer that he couldn’t breathe and eventually lost consciousness sometime during the arrest, according to court documents. The mother pleaded with Chauvin to let up the restraint, but Chauvin told her that her son was a “big guy” and didn’t listen. The son, still in the restraint, eventually calmed his panicked mother down verbally.
The 2017 arrest wasn’t the only alleged use of force that came to light in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder. At least three other Minneapolis residents have reported violent contact with the convicted former cop.
“Thanks to marches and cries for justice echoing through our streets the courage and wisdom f a jury, a significant change is afoot,” Ben Crump said in a statement released Wednesday morning. . “Not only did we see it with the conviction in a Minnesota state court, but we also now see it at the federal level in the form of landmark civil rights charges.”
“It’s a good day for justice,” Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd added, shortly after Chauvin’s guilty plea, according to the AP.
In additional to the federal civil rights charges, Thou, Kueng and Lane are still facing state criminal charges of aiding and abetting manslaughter and murder for their role in Floyd’s death. All three men have pleaded not guilty to the state charges. They are expected to stand trial in March.