Many in New Mexico have been following the story of the disgraced former police officer from another state who was recently led into a federal courtroom in an orange jail uniform. Derek Chauvin was one of several cops called to a street corner where a black man, George Floyd, was suspected of trying to make a purchase in a local store with counterfeit money. An altercation between the man and Chauvin ensued and the man wound up dead after Chauvin took him to the ground and applied force with his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck.
Chauvin’s new plea means that there will be no federal trial
The case made news headlines for quite some time, with most reporters depicting Chauvin as a white police officer who could not have cared less about a black man’s distress as he was held in detainment. Back in April, a state court found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter. He was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.
He has now changed his plea in federal court to guilty of excessive use of force in violation of George Floyd’s civil rights. The judge asked Chauvin if he clearly understood the implications of the guilty plea, namely that the case would henceforth be closed and there would never be a federal trial. The judge also noted that without the plea agreement, Chauvin was looking at possible life in prison if convicted in federal court.
Video footage showed Floyd’s dying breaths
Millions watched George Floyd take his final breaths as he lay pinned under Dereck Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes. Members of Floyd’s family who were present when Chauvin changed his plea to guilty in federal court said they were glad it was a “day for justice.” In New Mexico and elsewhere, others have also experienced civil rights violations leading up to and during – or even after – an arrest; those who live to tell about it, as well as the surviving families of those who don’t, are able to protect their rights by pursuing legal recourse.