May 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors seek tougher sentence for Derek Chauvin following guilty verdict

George Floyd's brother speaks into microphones at a podium, standing next to Attorney Ben Crump
George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd (C) speaks flanked by Revl Al Sharpton (2nd L) and Attorney Ben Crump (R) on April 20 following Chauvin's guilty verdict. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and state prosecutors are seeking a more severe sentence for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin following a jury finding him guilty in the murder of George Floyd, according to court documents filed Friday.

Why it matters: Under Minnesota statues, Chauvin will only be sentenced on the most serious charge that he was found guilty of — second-degree murder, AP reports. Experts say he is not expected to be given the maximum sentence of 40 years. He was also found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors cite five factors in support an aggravated sentence for Chauvin:

  • Floyd "was a particularly vulnerable victim" when Chauvin pinned him against the pavement by holding a knee to his neck, since the use of force continued after he became unresponsive. Floyd was also intoxicated.
  • Prosecutors argue that Floyd "was treated with particular cruelty" as he was held on the pavement after repeatedly saying he could not breathe and while bystanders called for Chauvin to stop, and that he was not offered CPR or medical assistance by officers.
  • They also accuse Chauvin of abusing his position of authority as a uniformed officer and committing a crime, as part of a group of three or more people, in the presence of multiple children.

What they're saying: Chauvin's attorneys responded in opposition to a higher sentence by noting that Floyd's size, and his ability to continuously struggle while being restrained during what they described as a lawful arrest, serves as evidence that he was not particularly vulnerable.

  • The defense argued that bystanders were free to leave the scene anytime they wished and that officers called for an ambulance to get Floyd medical attention.
  • His attorneys also stated that the other officers on the scene with Chauvin have not been convicted of a crime related to his own offenses. Former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are charged with manslaughter as well as aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
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