Back in May, Chauvin, along with three other ex-Minneapolis cops, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and their failure to provide Floyd with medical care. Chauvin initially pleaded not guilty to the federal charges in September, but signaled his decision to change his plea via a motion filed Monday, Dec. 13.
During the hearing in St. Paul, Minnesota, a federal prosecutor said that, as part of the plea deal, they would seek a 25 year prison sentence, which would run concurrent to Chauvin’s 22.5-year state sentence (a judge will still finalize the full length of Chauvin’s sentence). Chauvin will serve his time in a federal penitentiary.
A lawyer for Chauvin, Eric Nelson, declined to comment to Rolling Stone.
In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Defendant Chauvin has pleaded guilty to two federal civil rights violations, one of which led to the tragic loss of George Floyd’s life. While recognizing that nothing can repair the harm caused by such acts, the Justice Department is committed to holding accountable those who violate the Constitution, and to safeguarding the civil rights of all Americans.”
Chauvin is also facing two additional civil rights charges related to a 2017 incident where he allegedly knelt on a teenager’s neck and hit him with a flashlight; he has pleaded not guilty to those charges and has not changed that plea.
While the federal guilty plea will likely add some additional years to Chauvin’s 22.5-year state sentence for murder, he could have garnered a much longer term — potentially life — had he gone to trial and been convicted. In pleading guilty to the federal charges and serving his time in a federal prison, he will also avoid a state penitentiary, where he could have potentially been around people he was responsible for incarcerating.
Since his conviction on murder charges in April, Chauvin has been locked up in solitary confinement at Minneosta’s lone maximum security state prison. He is in the process of appealing his murder conviction.
As for the other three officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — charged in relation to Floyd’s death, no trial date has been set yet for the federal civil rights case against them. The trio, however, will stand trial in March 2022 on separate charges that they aided and abetted Floyd’s death.