Derek Chauvin expected to plead guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, appears to be on the verge of pleading guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights, according to a notice sent out Monday by the court’s electronic filing system.

The federal docket entry shows a hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday for Chauvin to change his current not guilty plea in the case. These types of notices indicate a defendant is planning to plead guilty.

Chauvin has already been convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges for pinning his knee against Floyd’s neck as the Black man said he couldn’t breathe during a 25 May 2020 arrest. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in that case.

Floyd’s arrest and death, which a bystander captured on cellphone video, sparked mass protests nationwide that called for an end to racial inequality and police mistreatment of Black people.

Chauvin and three other former officers – Thomas Lane, J Kueng and Tou Thao – were set to go to trial in late January on federal charges alleging they willfully violated Floyd’s rights.

The information sent out Monday gives no indication that the other officers intend to plead guilty.

According to evidence in the state case against Chauvin, Kueng and Lane helped restrain the 46-year-old Floyd as he was on the ground – Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held down Floyd’s legs. Thao held back bystanders and kept them from intervening during the nine-and-a-half-minute restraint.

All four officers were charged broadly in federal court with depriving Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority, but the federal indictment broke down the counts even further. A count against Chauvin alleged he violated Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and from unreasonable force by a police officer.

It was not immediately clear if Chauvin plans to plead guilty to all or just some of the federal charges against him in connection with Floyd’s death.

Chauvin is also charged in a second indictment, stemming from the use of force and neck restraint of a teenage boy in 2017.

That indictment alleges Chauvin deprived the then 14-year-old boy, who is Black, of his right to be free of unreasonable force when he held the teen by the throat, hit him in the head with a flashlight and held his knee on the boy’s neck and upper back while he was prone, handcuffed and not resisting.

The three other officers were also charged in state court with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. They are scheduled to go to trial in the state case in March.

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