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Judge Finds Aggravating Factors In Chauvin Case, Paving Way For Longer Sentence

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, seen here in an April 21 booking photo, may face a longer sentence after Judge Peter Cahill found aggravating factors in the case.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, seen here in an April 21 booking photo, may face a longer sentence after Judge Peter Cahill found aggravating factors in the case.

A Minnesota judge has found aggravating factors in Derek Chauvin's murder of George Floyd — a finding that dramatically increases the likelihood of a longer sentence.

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty last month of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

Judge Peter Cahill said in an order made public Wednesday that four aggravating factors are present in the case: Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority as a police officer, treated Floyd with "particular cruelty," committed the crime as part of a group with at least three other people, and that children were present during the commission of the offense.

During the trial, a 9-year-old girl who had witnessed the incident testified that seeing it made her feel "sad and kinda mad."

Chauvin was found guilty of all the counts against him, but in Minnesota, a person convicted of multiple crimes for a single incident is typically only sentenced for the most severe charge. In this case, that's second-degree murder.

The maximum sentence for that charge is 40 years, but state sentencing guidelines recommend 12.5 years in prison for a conviction on unintentional second-degree murder for someone with no criminal history. Prosecutors sought an upward departure from that duration, arguing that there were multiple aggravating factors in the case.

Cahill agreed with prosecutors, other than their argument that Floyd was particularly vulnerable. "Restraining George Floyd in the prone position with the weight of three police officers on him for a prolonged period did not create a vulnerability that was exploited to cause death; it was the actual mechanism causing death," Cahill wrote.

Chauvin's sentencing is scheduled for late June. Three other former Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's death — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — will be tried together in a trial set to begin Aug. 23.

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