In the middle of 2021, a Minnesota judge sentenced officer Derek Chauvin to more than 22 years behind bars for his part in George Floyd’s death. Later, Chauvin accepted a guilty plea in federal court. As part of the guilty plea, Chauvin admitted he violated Floyd’s civil rights.
According to reporting from ABC News, federal prosecutors recently announced they would not offer plea deals to three other officers who were present when Floyd died. This is an interesting development, as prosecutors had entertained possible pleas earlier.
The officers’ actions
While it was Chauvin who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck and ultimately caused his death, other officers stood by and refused to intervene. Two officers held Floyd down, while one remained nearby to control the crowd. This third officer made it impossible for bystanders to provide assistance to Floyd. Regrettably, none of the officers offered medical care to Floyd after he lost consciousness.
An alleged civil rights violation
The federal prosecutors’ case alleges the officers violated Floyd’s fundamental right to be free from unreasonable force when police were asserting their authority. Prosecutors further allege the officers failed to render aid, which also violated his civil rights.
An imminent trial
The refusal of prosecutors to offer plea deals to the three remaining defendants means a trial is imminent. It also likely means prosecutors believe they have sufficient evidence to convict each of the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt. Still, until a jury convicts the officers, they have a presumption of innocence.
Ultimately, while prosecutions against officers who deprive individuals of their civil rights are exceedingly rare, this case may be promising for anyone who has suffered mistreatment by the police.