Derek Chauvin’s federal sentencing hearing has started

George Floyd
George Floyd (Courtesy Ben Crump)

The guilty plea to both federal charges represented the first time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had publicly admitted his role in George Floyd’s death after he had pleaded not guilty to the state murder charges and exercised his right not to testify at trial in April.

George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd told CNN in February that it was a feeling of accountability.

“To me, this is big, because a blue wall fell, and it never falls,” he said. “It makes me feel better knowing that he is going be held accountable for what is going on.”

Other family members said they believed Chauvin pleaded guilty only because he had no other choice.

“I’m still feeling the same pain (and) anger I felt in the beginning, because he could have did this last year, started this on that day,” said Rodney Floyd, another one of Floyd’s brothers. “So today is the same pain.”

Terrence Floyd, another brother, said hearing the guilty plea “made me feel like, finally, you took accountability.”

“When he was pleading guilty, I know he knows why,” he said. “The fact still remains that he’s actually going to be in prison and he’s going to do time for what he did, so that’s good enough for me.”

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the state murder case against Chauvin, issued a statement on the importance of the guilty plea.

“Today, Derek Chauvin took responsibility and admitted his guilt in open court, under penalty of perjury, for depriving George Floyd and a boy, then just 14 years old, of their civil rights. This is important and historic. His admissions mark another important moment of accountability and another step on the road to justice,” he said.

Chauvin was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly using unreasonable force against a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

Ellison also thanked the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota and the Department of Justice for bringing the case.

“George Floyd’s life mattered. That young man’s life matters. Nobody is above the law, and nobody is beneath it. While Floyd’s life is lost to his family and all of us, I hope Chauvin’s change of plea will mark a new beginning for equal justice under the law, respectful treatment for every person in our society, and greater trust in our system of justice,” Ellison said.

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