Derek Chauvin has pled guilty in the federal civil rights case against him in a Wednesday morning hearing in the US District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota. Though he previously pled not guilty to the charges, he submitted a written change of plea on Monday.
Sentencing will come at an unknown later date, and he's facing 25 years - according to prior statements by prosecutors - importantly, to be served concurrently with the April state sentence. He was previously handed 22 and-a-half years in prison for being found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, which sparked months of often violent protests across multiple major cities.
According to The Wall Street Journal, prosecutors agreed to seek a 300-month maximum sentence (25 years) instead of life imprisonment. This means Chauvin could be a free man by the time he's 70-years old.
The civil rights case centers on accusations that Chauvin willfully depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights, namely illegal search and seizure and use of unreasonable force. The federal charges indicated that the ex-police officer "did so by pinning Floyd to the ground with a knee on his neck as he was handcuffed and not resisting, resulting in Floyd's death."
Some of Floyd's family members after the hearing expressed relief, saying they believe Chauvin finally accepted some level of "accountability" in the 46-year old Black man's death...
"Today, he had a chance to blow kisses and give air hugs to his family. We can’t do that to our loved one who’s not here," Williams said.
Williams said he doesn't expect an apology from Chauvin, and "I don’t honestly care to have one."
"I want him to feel the same pain that we felt watching the videos. I want him to feel the same pain that he inflicted on George Floyd,: Williams continued.
George Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, said hearing the guilty plea made him feel like Chauvin "finally ...took accountability."
Without the guilty plea, Chauvin's trial was expected to start in January.
Family member Terrence Floyd added, "When he was pleading guilty, I know he knows why"... "The fact still remains that he’s actually going to be in prison and he’s going to do time for what he did, so that’s good enough for me."
BREAKING: Ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Chauvin’s plea means he will not face a federal trial in January, though he could end up spending more years behind bars. https://t.co/xOWfQ0sW9R— The Associated Press (@AP) December 15, 2021
The wave of protests and riots unleashed in the wake of the video of Floyd's breathing his last went viral resulted in at least 25 deaths, some of them African Americans, as well as many dozens of buildings and businesses - possibly hundreds - burned to the ground. The mainstream media still consistently hailed the Black Lives Matter protests as "peaceful" - sometimes even while buildings were literally on fire behind the news anchors making the claims.