Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted last year on multiple state charges related to the 2020 murder of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide protests and riots, and was sentenced to serve more than 22 years in a Minnesota state prison.
Chauvin also faced federal charges for violating Floyd’s civil rights, though, and on Thursday he was sentenced to also serve 21 years in federal prison for his crimes, the Washington Examiner reported.
21 years following guilty plea
Before sentencing, Chauvin did not issue an apology for his actions but did express his condolences and well-wishes to Floyd’s family with regard to their loss.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson reportedly told the former cop, “I really don’t know why you did what you did, but kneeling on someone until they expire is simply wrong, and for that, you will be punished.”
Chauvin had accepted a federal plea deal in December 2021 in which he admitted his guilt in violating the civil rights of not just Floyd but also a then-14-year-old suspect who the former officer had used excessive force in a separate incident, and part of that deal included a prison sentence of 20-25 years.
Prosecutors had sought the full 25 years — Chauvin had faced a potential life sentence if the case had gone to trial — while Defense attorneys had argued for just 20 years. Judge Magnuson essentially split the difference and then shaved off another seven months from the sentence for time already served.
Federal vs. state prison
According to the Associated Press, Chauvin’s dual sentences for the state and federal convictions will be served concurrently and in federal prison.
Ironically enough, that means Chauvin will likely serve more time behind bars in the federal prison than if he had remained in the state prison, given that Minnesota’s prison system allows inmates to qualify for parole much sooner than the federal system does.
However, despite serving a longer-term, the former cop will also likely be much safer in federal lockup than if he had stayed in state prison, due to the reduced chance that he would run into a fellow inmate that he had previously arrested or investigated or otherwise interacted with in Minneapolis.
Chauvin has thus far been held in solitary confinement in a 10-foot square cell away from the general population for his own protection, with only about one hour outside for exercise each day. In federal prison, however, he will likely be able to be housed among the general population and have more freedom of movement and the ability to engage in various rehabilitation programs.
Trials and sentences pending for other former officers
With Chauvin’s punishment now complete, ABC News reported that attention will now turn to the other officers involved in the Floyd murder — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao — who also face criminal charges for the roles they played.
Kueng and Thao have pleaded not guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting the manslaughter and murder of Floyd and are awaiting trial, while Lane pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter — a more serious murder charge was dismissed in the deal — and likely faces three years in prison, a sentence substantially lower than the 40 years he might have faced without the plea deal.