Derek Chauvin, Former Minneapolis police officer, could face up to 30 years in prison after a Minnesota judge ruled there were four aggravating factors in the murder of George Floyd.
Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter last month for kneeling on the neck and back of Floyd, handcuffed and lying prone on the street, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Judge Peter Cahill ruled Wednesday May 13 that four of the five factors were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He found that (1) Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority, and (2) he treated Floyd with particular cruelty.
“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 but during which the defendant objectively remained indifferent to Mr. Floyd’s pleas,” Cahill wrote.
Cahill also ruled that (3) children were present during the offense, and (4) Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other people.
On that fourth point, Judge Cahill wrote that three former officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and Alexander Kueng, were actively involved in the incident, but he made no finding as to their intent or knowledge. They have each pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting.
However, Cahill rejected the aggravating factor that Floyd was “particularly vulnerable,” noting Floyd had initially resisted arrest. He also ruled that restraining Floyd in the prone position did not create a vulnerability but was instead the actual mechanism of his death.
Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump released a statement on Wednesday applauding Cahill for the ruling.
“The application of justice, in this case, offers hope that we will see real change in the relationship between police and people of colour by holding officers properly accountable for egregious behaviour and for failing to honour the sanctity of all lives,” Crump said.
This comes weeks after Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Under Minnesota statutes, he’ll be sentenced only on the most serious count – second-degree murder.
His sentencing is set for June 25, and he is currently being held at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights.
The sentences for all three crimes would likely be served at the same time, not consecutively. “Generally, when an offender is convicted of multiple current offenses… concurrent sentencing is presumptive,” according to the guidelines.
Chauvin faces other legal issues as well.
A federal grand jury indicted all four former officers in connection with Floyd’s death, alleging they violated his constitutional rights, according to court documents filed in federal court in Minnesota. Chauvin also was charged in a separate indictment related to an incident in which he allegedly used unreasonable force on a Minneapolis 14-year-old in September 2017, the Justice Department said in a statement.