MINNEAPOLIS, Sept 14 — The former Minneapolis policeman convicted of murdering George Floyd will be back in court via videolink today, along with three other officers involved in the killing that sparked America’s biggest racial justice demonstrations in decades.
Derek Chauvin, 45, could reportedly use the opportunity to plead guilty and acknowledge — for the first time — responsibility for the death of the 46-year-old Black man, on whose neck he knelt for nearly 10 minutes in May 2020.
Chauvin was sentenced in June to 22 and a half years in prison, which he is currently serving, at the end of an extraordinary trial in a Minnesota state court.
Chauvin’s three former colleagues, Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, will face trial in March 2022 on charges of complicity in homicide.
All four men also face federal charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights.
Such double prosecutions are allowed in the United States, but they are relatively rare. The proceedings reflect the significance of the case at the heart of a wave of nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
The four defendants will appear Tuesday via video before a federal judge, who will read the indictment against them. The men are expected to say whether they plead guilty or not.
According to local media, Chauvin has been negotiating a plea deal for several weeks that would spare him another trial.
During his first trial, his lawyer said Chauvin had followed police procedures and that Floyd’s death was due to health problems exacerbated by drug use.
At the end of the proceedings, Chauvin offered his condolences to the Floyd family and said: “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,” hinting at a possible plea deal.
The jurors took less than 10 hours to convict.
Their decision was greeted with relief across the country. Many had feared an acquittal would lead to worse unrest, while others worried that once again a white police officer would get away with what they saw as murder.
The Floyd family’s lawyer called the sentencing a “historic” step towards racial reconciliation in the United States. — AFP