What To Know About Derek Chauvin's Sentencing

Lawrence Kim
April 21, 2021

Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin will likely seek to overturn his murder and manslaughter convictions by arguing that the jury was prejudiced by media coverage and a settlement in the civil case brought by George Floyd's family, though his odds of success are slim, legal experts said.

Chauvin was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Deliberations began on Monday and lasted just over 10 hours. The maximum sentence is 40 years. He was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs and placed in the custody of the Hennepin County Sheriff. Cars honked and chants of "George Floyd" and "All three counts" broke out. "Justice was served", the 32-year-old from Minneapolis said. "I was hoping that we would get justice and it looks like we did", he said.

A man gestures on a bench at the George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 20, 2021. The site has since become a rallying point for racial justice protests.

"Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd's family".

Chauvin had pleaded not guilty to the charges of second-degree unintentional murder involving "intentional infliction of bodily harm", third-degree unintentional "depraved mind" murder involving an "act eminently unsafe to others", and second-degree manslaughter involving a death caused by "culpable negligence". While the United States criminal justice system and juries have long given leeway and some legal protection to police officers who use violence to subdue civilians, the jurors in this case found that Chauvin had crossed the line and used excessive force.

The presumptive sentence for each murder charge was 12.5 years for a defendant like Chauvin, who has no prior criminal history, according to Minnesota's state guidelines.

The convictions could carry a sentence of 12 and a half years in prison, but that number is subject to change. Cahill will also have to determine whether there were special circumstances of the crime that would justify a lengthier sentence than the prison terms laid out by Minnesota's sentencing guidelines. The jury included four white women, two white men, three Black men, one Black woman and two multiracial women, according to court records.

Biden said the verdict is "a step forwards", and that such a verdict in a case of police violence is "also much too rare". "I understand why the prosecution in this case did not want to do that, because they really felt that they may not have been able to get a verdict from a jury on that just based on racial bias", she said. "I wouldn't say that unless the jury was sequestered now".

"America has a long history of systemic racism", she said, adding that Black people - Black men in particular - have been treated as "less than human" throughout the course of history. His team has instead pointed reporters to his support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has passed the House of Representatives but has a tougher fight in the Senate, rather than executive actions.

Mr. Floyd had said, "I can't breathe", repeatedly during the approximately nine minute encounter with Mr. Chauvin on May 25 a year ago, an encounter that was filmed by bystanders, particularly a teenage girl, whose footage went viral on social media.

The president has repeatedly denounced Floyd's death but had previously stopped short of weighing in on Chauvin's trial, with White House officials saying it would be improper to speak out during active judicial proceedings.

Biden said he was only weighing in on the trial into the death of Floyd, who died with Chauvin's knee on his neck, because the jury in the case had already been sequestered. Eventually Chauvin lifted his knee to allow paramedics to place Floyd's limp body onto a stretcher.

He conceded to Chauvin's attorneys that Waters' comments could potentially be grounds for an appeal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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