Ruling Paves Way for Longer Sentence in George Floyd's Death

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is placed in handcuffs watched by Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill after a jury found him guilty on all counts in his trial for second-degree murder third-degree murder and second-degree mansla

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is placed in handcuffs watched by Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill after a jury found him guilty on all counts in his trial for second-degree murder third-degree murder and second-degree mansla

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, according to an order made public Wednesday. Chauvin has no prior criminal record, so Minnesota's sentencing guidelines recommend about 12 and a half years in prison for each murder charge and about four years for the manslaughter charge. 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". "The State therefore respectfully requests that the Court find the facts necessary to support the existence of these five aggravating factors, and that the Court impose an aggravated sentence on that basis", prosecutors said in the filing.

On 20 April, Chauvin was found guilty of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd. "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; it was the actual mechanism causing death", Cahill wrote. He said prosecutors did not prove that Floyd was particularly vulnerable.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Democrat, and other prosecutors had presented Cahill in a recent motion with five factors that would trigger an aggravated sentence.

Without an aggravating factor, Chauvin's sentence would likely have fallen between 10 years and eight months or 15 years.

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Chauvin was found guilty of all the counts against him, but in Minnesota, a person convicted of multiple crimes for a single incident is typically only sentenced for the most severe charge. He said Chauvin had legal authority to assist in Floyd's arrest and was authorized under law to use reasonable force.

Floyd's death after he was handcuffed on a Minneapolis street with Chauvin's knee on his neck for more than nine minutes prompted massive protests against racism and police brutality in many US cities and other countries last summer.

Three other former officers have been charged in Floyd's death on May 25 and are set to go on trial this summer.

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