Chauvin, 45, faces decades in prison, with several legal experts predicting a sentence of 20 to 25 years. Although Chauvin is widely called upon to appeal, he is also due to stand trial on federal civil rights charges, along with three other dismissed officers who have yet to be tried in the state.
The concrete barricades, razor wires and National Guard patrols that enveloped the county courthouse for Chauvin’s three-week trial are gone, as have most of the tension in the town as she waited. a verdict in April. Still, it is recognized that Chauvin’s conviction will be another big step forward for a city that’s been on edge since Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.
“Between the incident, the video, the riots, the trial – this is the pinnacle of it,” said Mike Brandt, a local defense attorney who has been following Chauvin’s case closely. “The verdict was huge too, but that’s where the justice falls. ”
Chauvin was convicted of unintentional second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for about 9 and a half minutes while the black man was stated that he could not breathe and became limp. Video of a bystander arresting Floyd on suspicion of passing a fake $ 20 bill has sparked protests around the world and a nationwide reckoning over race and police brutality.
Under Minnesota laws, Chauvin will only be sentenced on the most serious charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. But case law dictates that a 30-year sentence would be the practical maximum sentence Judge Peter Cahill could impose without risk of being overturned on appeal.
Prosecutors asked for 30 years, saying Chauvin’s actions were egregious and “shocked the conscience of the nation.” Defense attorney Eric Nelson requested probation, saying Chauvin was the product of a “broken” system and “felt he was doing his job.”
Cahill has previously found that the aggravating factors in Floyd’s death warrant exceeded the 12-and-a-half-year sentence recommended by state sentencing guidelines. The judge concluded that Chauvin had abused his position of authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty and that the crime had been seen by several children. He also wrote that Chauvin knew Floyd’s restraint was dangerous.
Lawyers for both sides are expected to make brief arguments on Friday, and victims or victims’ family members can make statements. No family member has publicly said they will speak.
Chauvin may also make a statement, but it is not clear if he will. Experts say it might be difficult for Chauvin to speak without getting involved in the ongoing federal case accusing him of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Chauvin chose not to testify at his trial. The only explanation the audience heard from him came from body camera footage in which he said to a passer-by at the scene, “We have to check this guy because he’s an important guy… and it looks like he is. ‘he’s probably on to something. “
Several experts said they doubt Chauvin would take the risk and speak up, but Brandt believed he would. He said Chauvin could say a few words without getting into legal trouble.
“I think this is his chance to tell the world, ‘I didn’t mean to kill him,’” Brandt said. “If I were him, I think I would try to let people know that I am not a freak. “
Several people interviewed in Minneapolis days before Chauvin’s conviction said they wanted to see a harsh sentence.
Thirty years “doesn’t seem long enough to me,” said Andrew Harer, a white retail worker. “I would be fine if he was in jail for the rest of his life. “
Joseph Allen, 31, who is black, said he believed Chauvin should be given “at least” 30, and said he would prefer a life sentence. He cited nearly 20 complaints filed against the now dismissed officer during his career.
Allen said he hopes other police can learn “not to do what Derek Chauvin did.”
Nekima Levy Armstrong, lawyer and civil rights activist, called for Chauvin to be sentenced “to the fullest extent of the law.” She called Floyd’s death a “modern day lynching” and predicted community outrage if Chauvin is lightly doomed.
When asked if she would like to hear Chauvin speak, Levy Armstrong said, “For me, as a black woman living in this community, there is really nothing he could say that would ease the pain and the pain. trauma he caused… I think if he spoke it would be dishonest and could cause more trauma. ”
Whatever punishment Chauvin is given, he will likely only serve about two-thirds behind bars presuming good behavior. The rest are said to be on probation.
He has been held since his conviction in the state’s only maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights. The former officer is kept away from the general population for his safety, in a 10 foot by 10 foot cell, meals being brought to his room. He is allowed to go out for solitary exercise for one hour a day.
It is not known if Chauvin will stay there. State prison officials said the decision would only be made after Cahill’s formal sentencing order.
Chauvin and the three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest await trial in federal court for violating Floyd’s civil rights. No trial date has been set.
The other three officers are also due to stand trial in March on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Associated Press / Report for America reporter Mohamed Ibrahim contributed to this report.
Find full AP coverage of George Floyd’s death at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd