Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin faces the prospect of a lengthier prison sentence after a judge this week agreed with prosecutors that he abused his position of authority while arresting George Floyd last year.
It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Chauvin used unreasonable force in restraining Floyd on the ground outside Cup Foods, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled in a May 11 order made public on Wednesday, citing how jurors convicted Chauvin of three counts, including second-degree murder.
Cahill also sided with the prosecution in agreeing that Chauvin treated Floyd “with particular cruelty,” that children were present during the time Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd’s neck and back, and that Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other persons.
It has not been proven that Floyd was particularly vulnerable, according to the ruling.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Democrat, and other prosecutors had presented Cahill in a recent motion with five factors that would trigger an aggravated sentence.
“Any one of these five aggravating factors would be sufficient on its own to warrant an upward sentencing departure. Here, all five apply. The State therefore respectfully requests that the Court find the facts necessary to support the existence of these five aggravating factors, and that the Court impose an aggravated sentence on that basis,” prosecutors said in the filing.
Nelson opposed each supposed factor, arguing in a brief that the state “has failed to meet its burden of proving the existence of the alleged aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin faces sentencing for the most serious crime he was convicted of, second-degree murder. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Minnesota convicts serve two-thirds of their sentence in jail and the other one-third outside of jail.
Without an aggravating factor, Chauvin’s sentence would likely have fallen between 10 years and eight months or 15 years.
Cahill will announce the sentence he decides on June 25.
The judge’s new ruling came after two major developments in the case.
Chauvin’s attorney last week asked for a new trial, arguing that the conviction was tainted by prosecutorial and jury misconduct and errors of law at trial. A few days later, federal officials announced a grand jury indicted Chauvin and three other former officers who were involved with Floyd’s arrest with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force.