Derek Chauvin has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating George Floyd’s civil rights.
The 45-year-old former Minneapolis police officer is currently serving a state jail term of 22-and-a-half years for killing Mr Floyd in May 2020.
Chauvin was convicted in April this year of murder and manslaughter charges in Minnesota after he knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes while the suspect said he could not breathe.
Chauvin has now appeared in a federal court for a change of plea hearing and will not face another trial.
He admitted he willfully deprived Floyd, 46, of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, including unreasonable force by a police officer, by putting his knee on the suspect’s neck even though he was handcuffed and not resisting.
He said “guilty, your honour” to confirm his pleas over Floyd’s death and an unrelated 2017 case, and admitted that he was guilty of the acts alleged.
Under the plea agreement, both legal teams agreed Chauvin should face a federal sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years, with US prosecutors saying they would seek 25.
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With parole and presuming good behaviour, Chauvin is expected to actually serve about 15 years of his state sentence behind bars.
Any federal sentence would run at the same time as the state sentence, and defendants serve about 85% of federal sentences with good behaviour.
That means if the judge gives Chauvin the maximum 25 years, he would likely serve about six years and three months beyond his state sentence.
Judge Paul Magnuson did not set a date for sentencing.
The killing was captured on video by a bystander and shared on social media, sparking global outrage and a wave of demonstrations against racial injustice and the use of force by police.
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Chauvin also pleaded guilty to violating the rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2007, during a separate arrest.
Chauvin held the boy, who is black, by the throat, hit him on the head with his torch and held his knee on the boy’s neck and upper back while he was handcuffed, court documents stated.
The guilty pleas mean Chauvin’s jail time is likely to be extended beyond his existing sentence.
The other three former officers involved in Mr Floyd’s arrest are expected to go to trial on federal charges in January and will face state trial on aiding and abetting counts in March.
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