Derek Chauvin to be sentenced Friday for murder of George Floyd

Thirteen months to the day after George Floyd was murdered on the streets of south Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer who put his knee to Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes, will be sentenced for the second-degree murder conviction he received on April 20.

While Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — Minnesota law stipulates that he will only be given a sentence for the severest of the three because they all arise out of the same behaviour.

Minnesota has statewide sentencing guidelines that determine what are called “presumptive sentences” — essentially recommended sentences for felony offences. Presumptive sentences offer guidelines for two decisions, whether to send someone to prison and for how long. In Chauvin’s case, because he has no criminal history of convictions, his presumptive sentence is a prison term between more than 10 and a half years and 15 years.However, four aggravated sentencing factors have been found in this case — that Chauvin treated Floyd with particular cruelty, abused his position of power as a police officer, killed him with the active participation of three or more other people, and did so in front of minors.

“The slow death of George Floyd occurring over approximately six minutes of his positional asphyxia was particularly cruel in that Mr. Floyd was begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die,” Cahill wrote of the cruelty factor in his ruling. “The defendant objectively remained indifferent to Mr. Floyd’s pleas.”

While Judge Peter Cahill is technically allowed to depart from the sentencing guidelines in either direction, he has to justify going above or below the recommended sentence if he does so. The aggravated factors largely remove Cahill’s need to justify a longer sentence. The maximum possible sentence for second-degree murder in Minnesota is 40 years, but because of Chauvin’s clean criminal history, “we have some case law in Minnesota that indicates that [Cahill] is safe going up to a double departure without too much fear of it being reversed”, Colbert said.

The defence and the prosecution have submitted memos on what they believe the sentence should be. On June 2, the defence asked Cahill to sentence Chauvin to probation and limit his sentence to time served. The same day, the prosecution, spearheaded by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, asked for the opposite — a 30-year prison sentence.

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