Ruling paves way for longer sentence in George Floyd’s death
Judge Peter Cahill. Image via AP.

Peter Cahill
Even with the aggravating factors, Chauvin is unlikely to get more than 30 years.

A Minnesota judge has ruled that there were aggravating factors in the death of George Floyd, paving the way for the possibility of a longer sentence for Derek Chauvin, according to an order made public Wednesday.

In his ruling dated Tuesday, Judge Peter Cahill found that Chauvin abused his authority as a police officer when he restrained Floyd last year and that he treated Floyd with particular cruelty. He also cited the presence of children when he committed the crime and the fact Chauvin was part of a group with at least three other people.

Cahill said Chauvin and two other officers held Floyd handcuffed, in a prone position on the street for an “inordinate amount of time” and that Chauvin knew the restraint was dangerous.

“The prolonged use of this technique was particularly egregious in that George Floyd made it clear he was unable to breathe and expressed the view that he was dying as a result of the officers’ restraint,” Cahill wrote.

Even with the aggravating factors, legal experts have said, Chauvin, 45, is unlikely to get more than 30 years when he is sentenced June 25.

Chauvin, who is white, was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as the Black man said he couldn’t breathe and went motionless.

Even though he was found guilty of three counts, under Minnesota statutes he’ll only be sentenced on the most serious one — second-degree murder. Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, he would have faced a presumptive sentence of 12 1/2 years on that count, and Cahill could have sentenced him to as little as 10 years and eight months or as much as 15 years and still stayed within the guideline range.

But prosecutors asked for what is known as an upward departure — arguing that Floyd was particularly vulnerable with his hands cuffed behind his back as he was face-down on the ground. They noted that Chauvin held his position even after Floyd became unresponsive and officers knew he had no pulse.

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. He said attorneys for both sides will argue whether an upward departure is appropriate and how long the sentence should be.

A pre-sentence investigation report will also be conducted. These are usually nonpublic and include highly personal information such as family history and mental health issues, as well as details of the offense and the harm it caused others and the community.

In arguing for the upward departure, prosecutors said Chauvin treated Floyd with particular cruelty during the lengthy restraint, saying Chauvin inflicted gratuitous pain and caused psychological distress to Floyd and to bystanders. 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.”

Cahill agreed with all but one of the prosecutors’ arguments. 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 car.

But Cahill said one of the other officers twice checked Floyd’s pulse and told Chauvin he detected none, while another officer suggested rolling Floyd to his side and said he was passing out. Cahill said these officers let Chauvin know that asphyxia was actually happening — yet Chauvin held his position.

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.

In finding that Chauvin treated Floyd with particular cruelty, Cahill wrote: “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.”

Defense attorney Eric Nelson disagreed with the state, saying that prosecutors did not prove that there were aggravating factors. He said Chauvin had legal authority to assist in Floyd’s arrest and was authorized under law to use reasonable force. He also said Floyd was not particularly vulnerable, saying he was a large man who was struggling with officers.

Nelson also argued Floyd was not treated with particular cruelty, saying that there is no evidence that the assault perpetrated by Chauvin involved gratuitous pain that’s not usually associated with second-degree murder.

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

Chauvin has also been indicted on federal charges alleging he violated Floyd’s civil rights, as well as the civil rights of a 14-year-old he restrained in a 2017 arrest. If convicted on those charges, which were unsealed Friday, a federal sentence would be served at the same time as Chauvin’s state sentence. The three other former officers involved in Floyd’s death were also charged with federal civil rights violations; they await trial in state court on aiding and abetting counts.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press

One comment

  • Kelly

    May 13, 2021 at 2:54 am

    My daughter was charged with battery on LEO after she touched the arm of the off duty, plain clothes detective assisting another off duty officer. Neighbor got officer from his apartment due to alleged domestic violence happening in her apartment. Let themselves in and Ray, boyfriend came around corner and 2 men in his apartment and a struggle insued. She came out to see what the heck was going on. Detective was on top of him, he wasn’t breathing and had defacated in himself. She touched the cop and said “he can’t breathe please get off of him”.
    Theybleached his clothes in jail, detective tried to coerce her into lying for him. She refused and charged with Battery. She was acquitted, he was demoted to squad car. 5 months later possession charge fraudulently, driver should’ve gotten charge. 16 points got her 2 yrs prison and daughter adopted out. January 2018, incident with her boyfriends child and her 2 girls. More corruption and same foster mom with first child has her 2 girls but didn’t want her son.He went to his father who was on probation for child neglect. As long as he left my daughter and went back to his wife he wouldn’t lose his kids, all 11 of them. Yeah, stellar family, trafficking fraudulently trying to acquire prescriptions to sell to teenagers. Total puppet show in SRC and EC courts. State prosecutors pull the puppet strings. Purgers, Nepotism and just pure corruption.
    Question. Bust the known drug house or hide and arrest all the addicts leaving-said drug house. Drugs off street- drug house. Yes
    Not here
    Arrested 72year old mother, LPN 38 years with disabled kids, I was arrested and daughter was arrested all for failure to report and child neglect for daughter- LPN got 1 yr probation, I got 300 days on plea agreement- I’m the backbone had to get out ASAP 23 months of state continuing, her attorney saying they can’t get their witnesses to cooperate and on the 21 month her attorney coerced her into the only offer which was offered in the beginning, of 36 months in prison. Her attorney said judge would give her max – 15 yrs if she lost at trial. Transcripts from sentencing did not match what was sent to appeals court. Attorney never filed depositions with court and never received a complete discovery. Sooo much corruption.
    Parents are going to start taking the law into their own hands – authority figures do not follow the law why should citizens

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