Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Sentenced To Twenty-Two Years For Killing George Floyd

from the beating-out-his-19-years-as-a-cop-by-a-narrow-margin dept

The police officer who set off months of anti-police violence protests has been sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly ten minutes… and for more than two minutes after another officer said he couldn’t detect a pulse.

This murder was carried out in broad daylight in front of several witnesses. Perhaps the most important witness was the one who filmed the entire killing: 17-year-old Darnella Frazier. Largely because of this recording, Chauvin was unable to elude justice.

Two months after Chauvin’s conviction on murder charges, Judge Peter Cahill has handed down a sentence nearly a decade longer than the 10-15 years recommended by state sentencing guidelines. This sentence is far more than Chauvin’s lawyer felt was justified. His attorney asked for time served and probation. (Chauvin had been incarcerated for 199 days by the time he was sentenced.) But it’s also less than what prosecutors had asked for: a 30-year sentence based on several aggravating factors.

Judge Cahill didn’t just hand down a sentence. He also issued a written order [PDF] explaining his decision to depart upwards from the sentencing guidelines. The order is thorough. And the list of aggravating factors includes the public nature of this killing and a reference to the witness who filmed the incident, creating an undeniable version of the facts that made it impossible for Chauvin to walk away from this.

Here’s the short version of the court’s explanation for its sentencing variance:

[T]he Court found that the evidence at trial proved beyond a reasonable doubt the following four aggravated sentencing factors:

(i) That Mr. Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority;

(ii) That Mr. Chauvin treated George Floyd with particular cruelty;

(iii) That children were present during the commission of the offense;

(iv) That Mr. Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of three other individuals, former Minneapolis Police Officers Thou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, who all actively participated with Mr. Chauvin in the crime in various ways.

These are presented in more detail later on in the order.

Mr. Chauvin “abused his position of authority” by using unreasonable force to hold “a handcuffed George Floyd in a prone position on the street”—“a position that Defendant knew from his training and experience carried with it a danger of positional asphyxia”—for more than nine minutes and forty seconds, “an inordinate amount of time.”

“Defendant’s placement of his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck was an egregious abuse of the authority to subdue and restrain because the prolonged use of this maneuver was employed after George Floyd had already been handcuffed and continued for more than four and a half minutes after Mr. Floyd had ceased talking and had become unresponsive.”

[…]

That “failure to render aid became particularly abusive after Mr. Floyd had passed out, and was still being restrained in the prone position, with Mr. Chauvin continuing to kneel on the back of Mr. Floyd’s neck with one knee and on his back with another knee, for more than two and a half minutes after one of his fellow officers announced he was unable to detect a pulse.”

Also factoring into the upward variance is the fact that this was no ordinary killing. As the court points out, this was an protracted, painful experience that ended in death — one that was far crueler than the acts normally associated with murders and assaults.

Mr. Chauvin’s prolonged restraint of Mr. Floyd was also much longer and more painful than the typical scenario in a second-degree or third-degree murder or second-degree manslaughter case. The “prolonged nature of the asphyxiation” makes this offense different in kind than, for example, a near-instantaneous death by gunshot, which is one typical scenario for this type of offense.

[…]

The conduct this Court has deemed particularly cruel also occurred over a longer period and was substantially more painful than a typical third-degree assault, the predicate felony offense for Mr. Chauvin’s second-degree murder conviction. […] . Chauvin’s conduct went beyond just inflicting “substantial bodily harm.” It “kill[ed] George Floyd slowly”—over the course of almost ten minutes—by inhibiting “his ability to breathe when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear he was having trouble breathing.” Indeed, Mr. Chauvin’s continuation of the assault after Mr. Floyd was no longer conscious and no longer had a pulse—Mr. Chauvin “continu[ed] to kneel on the back of Mr. Floyd’s neck . . . for more than two and a half minutes after one of his fellow officers announced he was unable to detect a pulse”—plainly sets Mr. Chauvin’s conduct apart from the typical case involving a felony assault that results in substantial bodily harm and death to the victim.

For that, the judge tacks on another ten years. Chauvin — the second Minneapolis police officer to be convicted of murder in the last two years — will spend most of the next 15 years in jail and another eight years under supervised release. Nothing done here will bring George Floyd back to life. But the court’s willingness to depart upwards when sentencing a former cop should hopefully act as a deterrent towards future police violence.

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Comments on “Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Sentenced To Twenty-Two Years For Killing George Floyd”

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33 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

It won’t bring back the dead but if it keeps even one person alive who would have otherwise been murdered by a cop this ruling will still have done some serious good beyond just putting a cold-blooded killer behind bars and away from the public for a few years.

While it is all sorts of messed up that this is at all surprising or something to cheer on rather than an extreme outlier with a known outcome from the outset it’s still a good development and hopefully one that more courts and judges will take note and emulate, because the less police believe that the law doesn’t apply to them the better off the public will be.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

"should hopefully act as a deterrent towards future police violence."

Or the pack learns from the bad experience of one member and hides it better in the future. "Look, you dealt with that one bad apple, but the rest of us are s-o-o-o trustworthy"

Watch out for human shields surrounding such incidents in the future to "preserve the dignity of the accused"

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bobvious says:

Re: privacy shields

Agreed.

"Re: Re:public .. right to record the police.

Except we can now probably expect "backup" to arrive quickly and force everyone filming to "backup" a few blocks away. The alternative is "privacy" screens being erected around the murder-in-progress.

"We were protecting the deceased’s privacy, Your Honor"

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210420/17584746644/filming-cops-is-best-accountability-tool-officer-derek-chauvin-convicted-murder-killing-george-floyd.shtml#c358

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Or the pack learns from the bad experience of one member and hides it better in the future. "Look, you dealt with that one bad apple, but the rest of us are s-o-o-o trustworthy" "

There were three other officers assisting Chauvin. In this four man squad there was Chauvin (with a long record of abuse and overreach) and one more with a similarly ripe record. And then…two rookies with about a year on the force.

This is the perfect setup for a gang indoctrination – enough hardened veterans who’ve been around the block and have the rap sheet to show it to bring off and teach the appropriate brand of thuggery, and two innocent idealists pressured into becoming accessories so they learn to shut up, hold the coat of the one doing the beating, and pretend they saw nothing. It’s those cops with clean slates who are going to be held up as talismans and shield the active thugs from too intrusive scrutiny.

The exact same way organized gangs do it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
christenson says:

Prison Reform

Part of me is glad it will be 15 years, more or less, before Derek Chauvin will be allowed to walk the streets again…

But part of me is seriously concerned that the experience, especially the "protective custody" part of it, will so destroy the man or quite possibly even kill him as to make any sort of meaningful redemption impossible.

Ms Chauvin, I hope you will join the fight for equal protection of the law not to be the same as equal destruction of the law….the people your husband was putting in cages were, in the end, little different from your husband.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Upstream (profile) says:

Re: Prison Reform

meaningful redemption impossible.

Our prison system has never been about redemption or rehabilitation. It never has been. Maybe it should be, at least for some, but it isn’t.

The few that do manage to get rehabilitated while in prison do it largely by, and for, themselves, and they do it in spite of the prison system, not because of it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Prison Reform

On paper it’s supposed to be. Look at Norway where the focus is on rehabilitation.

In the US though, we have a system of private prisons whose sole reason for existing is to fill up as many cells as possible. This makes any kind of rehabilitation a determent profit-wise while profitable to make or keep certain things illegal despite public pressure to the contrary like legalizing weed at the federal level. That’s why we see so many ultimately fall back into the habits that landed them in prison in the first place because the system wants "repeat customers". People who never come back is bad for business.

Those that manage to escape the trap and become better people are sadly an exception rather than the rule.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Prison Reform

I’m sure before he ended up in solitary confinement Mr Chauvin would have been a strong supporter of the use of that kind of custody. While I agree with the overarching point that what the prison will call "protective custody" is generally inhumane, this case is so high profile I don’t see how he could be released into a general population where lifers will just try and murder him as a trophy. I’d worry someone in the system is going to take pity on him and allow him privileges a non-cop wouldn’t get.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Prison Reform

"But part of me is seriously concerned that the experience, especially the "protective custody" part of it, will so destroy the man or quite possibly even kill him as to make any sort of meaningful redemption impossible."

Looking at Chauvin’s life up until the part where he murdered Floyd…I think "redemption" wasn’t in the cards to begin with. A lot of people can claim some form of mitigating circumstance to their crimes. A lot of criminals can learn to do better. Rehabilitation should always be the focus of incarceration, if for no other reason than that it’s better to have a former convict holding down an honest job and paying taxes rather than being guided further down a path of no retreat doing hard time…
…but for some people that just ain’t the case. And in those cases all you can really do is to lock them up and throw away the key.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Prison Reform

Basically, the people enforcing the law should be held to a higher standard than the people they enforce it upon. The crime of murder is obviously greater than the crime of passing a fake banknote (possibly unknowingly, I don’t think there’s definitive proof otherwise), so punishment for that should be harsh.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Prison Reform

"The crime of murder is obviously greater than the crime of passing a fake banknote (possibly unknowingly, I don’t think there’s definitive proof otherwise), so punishment for that should be harsh."

Well, that would be the basic definition of good jurisprudens – reasonable and proportional rule of law.
Problem is the US doesn’t even have this very basic understanding of legal principle, most people having concluded that "criminal" is a condition you’re born to and pass on in lamarckian fashion.

Before you can even get to the point where the US can reasonably pull of rule by law without fear or favor you need to bring to the attention of the population as a whole that human beings are born as blank slates rather than preconditioned to grow up as drug dealers and murderers.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Eric Garner was murdered for selling cigarettes. Floyd was murdered for supposedly passing fake money (though AFAIK it’s never been confirmed that this was actually the case).

Not that the average person stupid enough to still support Chauvin after watching him murder someone on camera would know the difference, but they’re 2 different incidents unless I kissed something.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Shows how brainwashed by cops people are, that even after his public murder, the still take the accusations against him at face value. He was accused and arrested, so he must have been guilty of something in their eyes, even if he didn’t deserve being murdered.

Guilty until proven innocent.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That is a scary thing. Even after being give full uncut video of a man getting slowly murdered, some people will still try claiming it was something else or that he somehow "deserved" it.

Seriously, guys, 1984 was a cautionary tale, not a how to manual!

""The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command"

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"…some people will still try claiming it was something else or that he somehow "deserved" it."

And we know the kind. The 30% still voting due Trump. The people of the GQP who stood on top of an SS Odal rune proclaiming a message of Blood And Soil to their base.
There would be a lot more sympathy for Floyd if his skin had been a few shades paler. THAT is the takeaway when you look at where the anti-floyd rhetoric comes from.

"Seriously, guys, 1984 was a cautionary tale, not a how to manual!"

Although that assertion and accusation is also true, the reason for the anti-floyd sentiment is more inspired by Mein Kampf than 1984.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s amazing/sickening the jumps in logic some people will make to avoid admitting that a cop killed someone.

As I’ve noted in the past if someone really did buy into the idea that so many people ‘just so happen’ to die when interacting with police if anything that would make them far more of a threat to the public than if they were ‘just’ homicidal/indifferent killers, as it would imply that police have some sort of ‘aura of death’ that drastically increases the likelihood of sudden death for those around them that’s beyond their control.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Not a chance

Sadly, you’re probably right. The lesson here is not "don’t spend 10 minutes slowly murdering an innocent man" (and, yes, since Floyd was not convicted of anything he was legally innocent). It’s "don’t let someone film you murdering" or "if someone filmed you, maybe they should die too if they don’t let you destroy the footage". If the footage didn’t exist, we’d be hearing about a heroic officer who Minneapolis found to have performed above and beyond his duty despite an unfortunate accident that forced him to take some vacation time.

We’re probably not really seeing a rise in racially motivated police violence, we’re just seeing a rise in the type of evidence of them doing it that can’t be waved away.

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restless94110 (profile) says:

Death

It’s a shame to witness the death of America via this trial and sentence. The entire world is watching the once land of blind justice collapse in on itself.

Anyone who could believe that the trial was just? Already the other defendants have brought evidence that the prosecutors and even the AG brought illegal pressure to bear on the coroner to change his report (or be replaced….this is documented).

That’s fair to you? The world is watching and they aren’t so blind. Two-tiered justice capped by mob rule. That’s what America now looks like.

Congratulations. You could be writing a different column. But you just don’t think it will happen to you one day.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, Restless94110 has pretty much outed himself plenty of times. We all know exactly why he’s upset – white people murdered a black man in the streets and were punished. No wonder the Proud Boy Bullhorn laments that "travesty" of justice where a public lynching was condemned by a court of law.

Talmyr says:

Re: Death

The world watched in horror at the inhumanity of American police, and it moved them to protest their own police too.

Chauvin’s blatant racism got statues of slavers cast down and many places named for them re-named in the UK.

Scum like that need disappeared from history, and their supporters should be thinking twice about singing the praises of racist criminals.

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