Derek Chauvin to Plead Guilty to Violating George Floyd's Civil Rights: Federal Court

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is expected to plead guilty to violating George Floyd's civil rights during a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, according to a court filing.

A new federal docket entry on Monday indicated that he plans to change his not-guilty plea in the case ahead of his federal trial in late January for the charges. Media were also given instructions from the court system to attend the hearing on Wednesday morning in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Three other former officers—Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao—are also slated to face trial in January for those charges. Floyd repeatedly said that he couldn't breathe during the deadly encounter in May 2020 as Chauvin pinned him to the ground for more than nine minutes.

Both Kueng and Lane helped Chauvin restrain Floyd, while Thao kept bystanders witnessing the encounter at bay, according to state court evidence. All four pleaded not guilty in September, but Chauvin is now expected to reverse his plea.

Chauvin was convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges in April for Floyd's death, which sparked global outcry and protests against racial injustice and police brutality. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison in June by Judge Peter Cahill, who noted Chauvin's "abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty" of the case.

Chauvin addressed the Floyd family for the first time during the June 25 hearing.

"I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. There's going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest. And I hope things will give you some peace of mind," Chauvin said, but did not elaborate.

Chauvin Guilty Plea Expected
Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin appears to be on the verge of pleading guilty to violating George Floyd's civil rights. Above, Chauvin addresses the court at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis June 25. Court TV via AP

The information sent out Monday gives no indication that the other officers intend to plead guilty. Messages left for attorneys for Kueng and Thao were not immediately returned. Earl Gray, the attorney for Lane, is currently in a trial in the unrelated case involving the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.

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.

Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd's neck. All four officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care.

Specifically, the indictment says Chauvin kept his left knee on Floyd's neck even though he was handcuffed and not resisting. The indictment alleges Thao and Kueng were aware Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck, even after Floyd became unresponsive, and "willfully failed to intervene to stop Defendant Chauvin's use of unreasonable force." All four are charged with willfully depriving Floyd of liberty without due process, including the right to be free from "deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs."

It was not immediately clear if Chauvin plans to plead guilty to all or 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. Information from the court gave no indication that Chauvin would be changing his plea in that case.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Update 12/13/2021 4:10 p.m.: This story has been updated to include more background information on Chauvin.

George Floyd Memorial
Derek Chauvin was convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges in April for George Floyd's death, which sparked global outcry and protests against racial injustice and police brutality. The site where Floyd died is seen in Minneapolis. Julio Cortez/AP Photo