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A Minnesota judge has ruled there were aggravating factors in the death of George Floyd — a Black man who died after being knelt on for nine minutes and 29 seconds. According to an order made public on May 12, 2021, this ruling paves the way for Derek Chauvin — the former police officer who knelt on Floyd — to receive a longer sentence.
Judge Peter Cahill has found that Chauvin misused his power of authority as a police officer when he restraining Floyd in 2020.
In April 2021, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree unintentional murder, and third-degree murder. Despite being found guilty of three counts he will only be sentenced for second-degree murder — the most serious of the charges.
In accordance with Minnesota sentencing guidelines, Chauvin would have faced a presumptive sentence of 12 and a half years for second-degree murder. Judge Cahill could have sentenced him to as much as 15 years or as little as 10 years and eight months and stayed within the State’s guideline range.
Prosecutors asked the courts for what is known as an upward departure. They argued that Floyd was especially vulnerable laying face-down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. Furthermore, they noted that the former officer held his position even after Floyd lost consciousness and officers knew he had no pulse.
Prosecutors stated Chauvin showed aggravating factors when he used particular cruelty when he restrained Floyd for so long. They also said he caused psychological distress and inflicted gratuitous pain on Floyd and the bystanders who stood witness.
Chauvin committed his crime as part of a group of three or more people. He even traumatized children when he pinned Floyd down. During his trial, a 9-year-old girl testified she felt “sad and kind of mad” as she watched Chauvin restrain Floyd.
Judge Cahill felt that prosecutors failed to prove that Floyd was particularly vulnerable at the time of his death. Which was the only argument the judge disagreed on.
Eric Nelson — Defense attorney — disagreed with the judge. He felt that prosecutors failed to prove there were aggravating factors. The attorney stated that Chauvin had the legal authority to assist in arresting Floyd. He added that the former officer was authorized — under the law — to use reasonable force.
Nelson further argued that Floyd was not treated with particular cruelty. Stating there was no evidence of gratuitous pain in the assault perpetrated.
Regardless of Chauvin’s sentence, in Minnesota, the defendant generally serves two-thirds of the penalty in prison with the rest on parole. This is due to the defendant exhibiting good behavior to receive what is referred to as “Good Time” by inmates.
Written by Sheena Robertson
KKTV 11: Ruling paves way for longer sentence in George Floyd’s death
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Lorie Shaull’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License