Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Depriving George Floyd and a Minor Victim of Their Constitutional Rights
(STL.News) The Justice Department announced today that Derek Chauvin, 45, pleaded guilty in federal court to two violations of a federal civil rights statute.
First, defendant Chauvin pleaded guilty to willfully depriving, while acting under color of law, George Floyd of his constitutional rights, resulting in Mr. Floyd’s bodily injury and death. Defendant Chauvin also agreed that the appropriate sentencing base offense level for this crime is second-degree murder because he used unreasonable and excessive force that resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death, and he acted willfully and in callous and wanton disregard of the consequences to Mr. Floyd’s life.
Second, defendant Chauvin pleaded guilty to willfully depriving, while acting under color of law, a then 14-year-old juvenile of his constitutional rights, resulting in the juvenile’s bodily injury.
“Defendant Chauvin has pleaded guilty to two federal civil rights violations, one of which led to the tragic loss of George Floyd’s life,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
In the plea agreement, defendant Chauvin admitted that on May 25, 2020, he willfully violated Mr. Floyd’s constitutional right to be free from an officer’s use of unreasonable force. Specifically, defendant Chauvin admitted that he held his left knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck, back and shoulder and his right knee on Mr. Floyd’s back and arm. The plea agreement states that Mr. Floyd remained restrained, prone and handcuffed on the ground for approximately 10 minutes. Defendant Chauvin further admitted that he continued to use force even though he was aware that Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, talking and moving, and even though he was aware that Mr. Floyd had lost consciousness and a pulse.
Defendant Chauvin admitted that Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) policy and training requires officers to stop using force when a subject is not resisting and to move an arrestee from the prone position into a side recovery or seated position because the prone position may make it more difficult to breathe. Defendant Chauvin admitted that his willful use of unreasonable force resulted in Mr. Floyd’s bodily injury and death because his actions impaired Mr. Floyd’s ability to obtain and maintain sufficient oxygen to sustain Mr. Floyd’s life.
In the plea agreement, defendant Chauvin also admitted that he willfully violated Mr. Floyd’s 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. Specifically, defendant Chauvin admitted that he failed to render medical aid to Mr. Floyd, although he saw that Mr. Floyd was lying on the ground, in serious medical need, and although he was aware that MPD policy required him to provide emergency medical aid, including CPR, to an arrestee who needs it. Defendant Chauvin admitted that his failure to render medical aid resulted in Mr. Floyd’s bodily injury and death.
Additionally, according to the plea agreement, defendant Chauvin admitted that on Sept. 4, 2017, he willfully violated a then 14-year-old juvenile’s constitutional right to be free from an officer’s use of unreasonable force. Specifically, defendant Chauvin admitted that he held the juvenile by the throat and struck the juvenile multiple times in the head with a flashlight, resulting in the juvenile’s bodily injury. In the plea agreement, defendant Chauvin also admitted that he held his knee on the juvenile’s neck, shoulders and upper back for between 15 and 16 minutes, even though the juvenile was face-down on the floor, handcuffed and not resisting. Defendant Chauvin admitted that these actions resulted in the juvenile’s bodily injury.
Defendant Chauvin pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson. Defendant Chauvin will be sentenced at a hearing to be scheduled at a later date. According to the plea agreement, defendant Chauvin faces a sentence of between 20- and 25-years imprisonment. Under the terms of the plea agreement, defendant Chauvin will serve his sentence in federal custody and will not be eligible to work in any law enforcement capacity following his release.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Samantha Trepel and Trial Attorney Tara Allison of the Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samantha Bates, LeeAnn Bell, W. Anders Folk, Evan Gilead, Manda Sertich and Allen Slaughter of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.