Chauvin Faces Tougher Sentence After Judge Finds Aggravating Circumstances in Floyd's Death

Ruben Fields
May 13, 2021

A Minnesota judge has ruled that there were aggravating factors in the death of George Floyd, paving the way for a longer sentence for Derek Chauvin.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said in a ruling signed on Tuesday that the court had pinpointed multiple facts that support an aggravated durational departure, which means the eventual sentence can go beyond the usual guideline range. The ruling also found that Chauvin committed his crime as part of a group with the active participation of at least three other officers and acted with children present, including a 9-year-old girl and her 17-year-old cousin whose cellphone video of Floyd's arrest brought worldwide attention to his death.

"Any one of these five aggravating factors would be sufficient on its own to warrant an upward sentencing departure". Chauvin, who is being held in solitary confinement at a Minnesota prison, is scheduled to be sentenced June 25. Chauvin and the three other police officers who were at the scene were fired a day after Floyd's death.

Although a jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges he was facing, Minnesota law dictates he will face sentencing only on the most serious charge: second-degree murder.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, seen here in an April 21 booking photo, may face a longer sentence after Judge Peter Cahill found aggravating factors in the case. He said prosecutors did not prove that Floyd was particularly vulnerable, noting that even though he was handcuffed, he was able to struggle with officers who were trying to put him in a squad vehicle.

Cahill said when it became clear to bystanders that Floyd was in distress and stopped breathing, Chauvin continued to abuse his position of authority by not rendering aid.

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The maximum sentence for that charge is 40 years, but state sentencing guidelines recommend 12.5 years in prison for a conviction on unintentional second-degree murder for someone with no criminal history.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

Defendant treated George Floyd with particular cruelty.

No matter what sentence Chauvin gets, in Minnesota it's presumed that a defendant with good behaviour will serve two-thirds of the penalty in prison and the rest on supervised release, commonly known as parole.

"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", Cahill wrote.

Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old Floyd for more than nine minutes until he passed out and died.

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