Former US policeman could face longer sentence for Floyd murder

Ruben Fields
May 13, 2021

Statutes in Minnesota, per the Associated Press, require that Chauvin be sentenced on only the most serious of the charges, with state guidelines showing he could have been sentenced to up to 15 years.

Children hold signs while people react after the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

In Judge Cahill's ruling, he said there were four aggravating factors that were proven by prosecutors beyond a reasonable doubt. Chauvin's sentencing is now set to take place in June.

Chauvin was found guilty in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Floyd. They also said Chauvin abused his position of authority as a police officer, committed his crime as part of a group of three or more people, and that he pinned Floyd down in the presence of children - including a 9-year-old girl who testified at trial that watching the restraint made her "sad and kind of mad".

As a first-time offender, Chauvin had potentially faced 12 and a half years in prison on that count under state sentencing guidelines.

With Tuesday's ruling, Cahill has given himself permission to sentence Chauvin above the guideline range, though he doesn't have to, said Mark Osler, professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

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Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin was convicted on April 20 of murdering Floyd, 46, by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes, in a case that marked a milestone in America's fraught racial history and a rebuke of law enforcement's treatment of Black Americans.

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, had no comment when asked for a response. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Dual prosecutions at both the state and federal level are permitted in the United States but are relatively rare, highlighting the importance of this case, which sparked a massive wave of national demonstrations last summer. However, prosecutors asked for what is called "upward departure", and argued Chauvin abused his authority as an officer and should receive a longer sentence that what would normally be recommended.

Mr Cahill disagreed with prosecutor's fifth point, which was that Mr Floyd was a "particularly vulnerable victim".

A ruling by Cahill is pending on a May 4 request by the defense for a new trial. A few days later, federal officials announced a grand jury indicted Chauvin and three other former officers who were involved with Floyd's arrest with violating Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force.

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