MINNEAPOLIS — Federal prosecutors asked a judge on Wednesday to sentence a former Minneapolis officer to 25 years for violating the rights of George Floyd, saying Derek Chauvin’s actions were cold-blooded and needless as he knelt on the Black man’s neck while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.
Chauvin pleaded guilty in December to violating Floyd’s rights, admitting for the first time that he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck — even after he became unresponsive — resulting in Floyd’s death. Chauvin, who is white, admitted he willfully deprived Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, including unreasonable force by a police officer, during the May 2020 arrest.
Chauvin was also convicted on state charges of murder and manslaughter and is already serving a 22 1/2-year state sentence. He would serve the federal sentence at the same time as the state sentence.
Floyd’s killing sparked immediate protests in Minneapolis that spread around the US and beyond in a reckoning over police brutality and discrimination involving people of color.
As part of his plea agreement, Chauvin also pleaded guilty to violating the rights of a then-14-year-old Black boy who he restrained in an unrelated case in 2017.
US District Judge Paul Magnuson has accepted the plea deal, in which both sides agreed Chauvin should face 20 to 25 years, with prosecutors seeking the high end of the range.
In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors reiterated their request for a 25-year sentence, saying it would reflect the serious nature of the offense, provide just punishment, and deter other officers from “imposing punishment” on others. They also said Chauvin’s history should be taken into account, noting he “used his law enforcement career to engage in abusive conduct” more than once.
A federal sentencing date has not been set.
Magnuson also presided over the trial of three other ex-officers who were convicted of related federal civil rights charges in Floyd’s death. Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng remain free remain free while they await their sentencing dates, which have not been scheduled.
Lane has also pleaded guilty to a state count of aiding and abetting manslaughter, while Thao and Kueng face an October trial on state charges of aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.