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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison in June following Floyd’s death, but he appeared in court again today, December 15, to enter a plea for federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
The charges included two counts alleging that Chauvin deprived Floyd of his rights by kneeling on his neck while being handcuffed by officers, despite not resisting arrest, and that Chauvin then failed to provide medical care to Floyd as he lay on the ground.
Chauvin has averted a trial with his decision to plead guilty, though it could result in an extension to the amount of time he spends behind bars.
Federal prosecutors have recommended that Chauvin be sentenced to up to 300 months, or 25 years, for the latest charges.
Chauvin was indicted earlier this year alongside the three other officers involved in the arrest on federal charges alleging they wilfully violated Floyd’s rights, with a trial for the other three men scheduled for January.
In order to bring federal charges in deaths involving police officers, prosecutors on the case must believe an officer acted under the ‘color of law’, or government authority, and wilfully deprived someone of their constitutional rights.
Indication or belief that the death was the result of an accident, bad judgment or simple negligence on the officer’s part isn’t enough to support federal charges, The Guardian reports, meaning the prosecutors have to prove the officer knew what they were doing was wrong and did it anyway.
A judge is set to determine Chauvin’s sentence at a later date, though the Associated Press notes that a 25-year federal sentence would likely only extend Chauvin’s time behind bars by roughly six years if he earns credit for good behaviour.
Chauvin also faces two more counts in a separate case involving the restraint of a Black teenager in 2017.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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