MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A ruling Wednesday morning could lead to a longer sentence for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last month in the murder of George Floyd.
Judge Peter Cahill says prosecutors in the Chauvin trial have proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” some aggravated sentencing factors, including cruelty.
According to Cahill, prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin abused a position of authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, children were present during the commission of the offense, and Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other people.
Chauvin is set to be sentenced on June 25. It was originally scheduled for June 16, but was pushed back.
“It was particularly cruel to kill George Floyd slowly by preventing his ability to breathe when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear he was having trouble breathing,” the ruling said on the cruelty factor.
Cahill says the victim being particularly vulnerable was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cahill ruled that although Floyd was handcuffed, he was still able to resist arrest and prevent three police officers from seating him in the squad car before being placed in the prone position.
“Restraining George Floyd in the prone position with the weight of three police officers on him for a prolonged period did not create a vulnerability that was exploited to cause death; it was the actual mechanism causing death,” Cahill said in the ruling.
— Jason DeRusha (@DeRushaJ) May 12, 2021
Four out of the five aggravated factors brought before the judge were found to be proven, and it means the judge could go with a longer sentence for Chauvin than the sentencing guidelines would indicate, which would be a minimum of 12 and a half years.
On April 20, the jury in Chauvin’s trial found him guilty on all three counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. It took the jury roughly 10 hours of deliberation to reach their verdict, including about four hours on the first day and another six hours on the second day.
Chauvin showed no reaction as the judge read all three unanimous verdicts. He was quickly handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom. He spent his first days of conviction in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights.
In early May, defense attorney Eric Nelson filed a motion for a new trial, claiming the court violated Chauvin’s constitutional rights for several reasons, including not allowing the trial to move outside of Hennepin County, and not sequestering the jury the entire time. He also says the jury committed misconduct and wants a hearing to throw out the verdict.
Benjamin Crump, Antonio Romannuci, and L. Chris Stewart released the following statement Wednesday regarding Judge Cahill’s ruling.
“We applaud Judge Cahill for ruling that four or five aggravating factors were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, which could significantly and appropriately lengthen his sentence. Clearly, Chauvin abused a position of trust, treated George Floyd with particular cruelty, and committed the crime in the presence of children and with the active participation of at least three other people – the other officers still to be tried. The application of justice in this case offers hope that we will see real change in the relationship between police and people of color by holding officers properly accountable for egregious behavior and for failing to honor the sanctity of all lives, ‘ said the statement.
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