MINNEAPOLIS – Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin should be sentenced to an extended prison term for the murder of George Floyd for inflicting “special cruelty” on Floyd, prosecutors argued in a new trial on Friday.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, also filed a memorandum denying the state’s intentions to look for “aggravating factors” that can be used to argue for a more severe sentence than the state sentencing guidelines recommend if Chauvin is convicted on June 25th.
“The defendant’s actions caused unsubstantiated pain and caused mental health problems for Mr. Floyd and those around him,” wrote the Minnesota Attorney General, who heads the prosecution. “In addition, despite the apparent signs of medical distress from Mr. Floyd and despite the defendant’s education, the defendant made no attempt to perform CPR or medical treatment for Mr. Floyd and discouraged others locally from providing medical care to Mr. Floyd. “
In his 10-page response, Nelson denied the legal rationale for all of the factors presented by the prosecutors.
“Because the state has not unequivocally fulfilled its burden of proving the existence of the alleged aggravating factors, the court may not be able to take them into account when deciding on the conviction,” wrote Nelson.
Prosecutors wrote that while only one aggravating factor is required to support a longer sentence, there were five such factors in Chauvin’s case:
– Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” because his hands were handcuffed behind his back when three police officers pinned him down on the street for allegedly using a fake $ 20 bill at Cup Foods.
– Floyd was treated with “particular cruelty”.
– Chauvin abused his position of authority.
– Chauvin committed the act as part of a group.
– Chauvin’s actions took place in front of at least six children, four of whom testified at his trial.
The court records come more than a week after the jury tried Chauvin on all charges against him in Floyd’s May 25 murder: accidental second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
Hennepin’s district judge, Peter Cahill, will review the memoranda and determine whether there are aggravating factors. Chauvin ruled in court that Cahill, not the jury, would look into the matter.
Accidental second degree murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Third degree murder can be punished with up to 25 years in prison. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, however, call for identical alleged sentences for both cases, starting from 121/2 years for someone with no criminal history. Second degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and / or a fine of $ 20,000. The count carries an alleged four-year prison sentence for someone with no criminal record.
Chauvin is convicted on the highest charges. Ted Sampsell-Jones, professor of law at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, previously said that Chauvin could receive a maximum of 30 years in prison if Cahill identified aggravating factors and used them in the conviction. Without these factors, chauvin could last a maximum of 15 years.
Prosecutors argued that Floyd was placed in a particularly vulnerable position on the street, threatening his ability to breathe, which Chauvin should have known from his training. Chauvin knelt by Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, despite Floyd saying 27 times he couldn’t breathe and stopped responding without a pulse, prosecutors argued.
“… The defendant replied negatively to Mr. Floyd’s request,” wrote the prosecutor. “He said ‘uh huh’ several times nonchalantly … and he said, ‘You talk a lot, you scream a lot. It takes a hell of a lot.” lots of oxygen to say things. ‘””
Floyd recognized Chauvin’s authority as an officer and the authority of his colleagues and addressed them with “respectful language.” Prosecutors argued that Chauvin had abused his position.
Nelson countered the state’s claim that Floyd was vulnerable by pointing out that Floyd was “well over six feet tall, muscular and weighed over two hundred pounds”. He wrote that Floyd “began to actively oppose the arrest” when two other officers tried to put him in a patrol car and that Floyd “even after Chauvin joined the effort,” still failed, himself to subdue until the officers could finally hold him back on the ground, where he continued to fight. “
Nelson denied that Chauvin acted cruelly because viewers witnessed the crime. None of the witnesses were Floyd’s friends or relatives, as is often the case when this aggravating factor is found, he wrote.
“The important thing is that none of the witnesses’ observation of the incident was involuntary. They were all free – and indeed encouraged by Officer Thao – to go anytime,” wrote Nelson.
With Chauvin providing no assistance, Nelson said an ambulance had been called prior to Chauvin’s arrival. He also argued that the police officer’s abuse of authority was not a recognized “aggravating factor” in conviction.
The state cannot prove that chauvin committed the crime as part of a group because the other officials were not convicted of crimes, Nelson wrote. Finally, Nelson said that the presence of children is usually considered when they are in a home or at the start of a crime and unable to walk, while in Chauvin’s case the children were bystanders who were not at risk.
Chauvin’s three former colleagues who were there – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – are due to be tried on August 23 for supporting murder and second degree manslaughter. All three are in custody.
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