BY- AAYUSH PUNDIR
Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd was found to have aggravating causes by a Minnesota judge, a finding that significantly raises the probability of a longer sentence.
On June 25, Chauvin who was an officer and was convicted in a Minnesota state court of killing Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, during an arrest last May, will be sentenced.
After announcing the jury’s verdict of guilty on all charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in his conviction for second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill dismisses the jury.
In the death of George Floyd in May 2020, Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty last month of second-degree accidental murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
In an order made public on Wednesday, Judge Peter Cahill stated that there are four aggravating factors in the case: As a police officer, Chauvin exploited his power of confidence and authority, treating Floyd with “special brutality,” and committing the crime with at least three other people, and that children were present at the time the crime was committed.
During the trial, a 9-year-old witness testified that seeing the incident made her feel “sad and kind of crazy.”
While Chauvin was found guilty of all charges brought against him, in Minnesota, a person convicted of multiple crimes for a single incident is usually only sentenced to the most serious charge. That’s second-degree murder in this case.
The maximum punishment for that crime is 40 years in prison, but state sentencing guidelines suggest 12.5 years in prison for someone with no criminal background who is convicted of accidental second-degree murder. Prosecutors argued that there were several aggravating factors in the case, so the sentence should be increased.
After hearing three weeks of testimony in a widely publicized courtroom, a jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty of second and third-degree murder and manslaughter. On June 25, he is set to be convicted.
District Court Judge Peter Cahill considered four aggravating factors in George Floyd’s death, according to a six-page ruling issued Tuesday. George Floyd was a 46-year-old Black man.
According to the judge, Chauvin, who is white, abused his place of confidence and authority by treating Floyd cruelly. Cahill ruled that he committed the crime in a party of three other officers and with children present.
Cahill wrote that “The slow death of George Floyd, which occurred over approximately six minutes of his positional asphyxia, was especially cruel in that as Mr. Floyd was begging for his life and clearly terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die, but the defendant objectively remained indifferent to Mr. George Floyd‘s please.”
George Floyd’s death, which occurred after he was handcuffed on a Minneapolis street for more than nine minutes with Chauvin’s knee on his neck, sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
George Floyd’s family’s lawyers praised Cahill’s decision.
“The application of justice in this particular case offers a hope that here we will see real change in the relationship between police and people of different colour by holding officers properly accountable for their egregious behaviour and failing to honour the sanctity of all lives,” the lawyers said in a statement.
The other former officers who were present at the time have been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death, and their trial is scheduled for Aug. 23.
Chauvin will be sentenced by Cahill, who presided over the trial. If the terms are served consecutively, he faces a total of 75 years in jail. State guidelines allow judges to impose sentences that are significantly less severe.
Prosecutors asked Cahill on April 30 to take into account a number of aggravating factors in George Floyd’s death so that he could make an “upward sentencing exit” in the case.
Although Cahill acknowledged several of the prosecution’s claims that aggravating circumstances existed, he dismissed one of them, finding that the state’s lawyers had failed to prove George Floyd was “especially weak” beyond a reasonable doubt.