A Minnesota judge has ruled that a white former police officer convicted of the murder of African-American George Floyd abused his authority and acted with “particular cruelty,” paving the way for a potentially longer sentence.
Derek Chauvin, a 17-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, is to be sentenced on June 25 for Floyd’s May 25, 2020 killing.
Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old Floyd for more than nine minutes until he passed out and died.
Chauvin was convicted on April 20 of murder and manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s death, which sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality around the world.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over Chauvin’s high-profile trial, ruled that several “aggravating” factors would allow him to depart from Minnesota state sentencing guidelines.
Cahill, in a ruling made public on Wednesday, said Chauvin had abused his “position of trust and authority” as a police officer.
“The trust placed in defendant included trust that anyone arrested would be treated with respect and only with reasonable force and that medical needs would be addressed in a timely fashion,” Cahill said.
The judge said Floyd was treated by Chauvin with “particular cruelty.”
“It was particularly cruel to kill George Floyd slowly by preventing his ability to breathe when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear he was having trouble breathing,” Cahill said.
Another aggravating factor, the judge said, was that children were present and “observed Mr. Floyd being asphyxiated as he begged for his life.”
The most serious charge that Chauvin was convicted of — second-degree murder — carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
As a first-time offender, Chauvin had potentially faced 12 and a half years in prison on that count under state sentencing guidelines.
Cahill’s ruling that there were aggravating factors will allow him to impose a stiffer sentence on the 45-year-old Chauvin, who also faces separate federal civil rights charges in connection with Floyd’s death. AFP