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Derek Chauvin to be sentenced for murder in the death of George Floyd

The former Minneapolis police officer was convicted in April of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter.

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, will learn his punishment Friday.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill will sentence Chauvin in the afternoon. Prosecutors have asked that Chauvin receive 30 years in prison. His lawyer is seeking probation.

The presumptive sentence for a person like Chauvin, who had no criminal history, is 12½ years for second-degree murder. Cahill could sentence him to as little as 10 years and eight months or as much as 15 years and remain within the guideline range.

Last month, Cahill ruled that prosecutors had proven there were four aggravating factors in Floyd's death, paving the way for a longer sentence.

Floyd, a Black man, was handcuffed, in a prone position on the street May 25, 2020, as Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for 9½ minutes while Floyd said he couldn't breathe and went limp. Floyd's gruesome death — captured in a harrowing bystander video that was posted to Facebook and widely viewed — ignited a reckoning on racial disparities in America and fueled calls for police reform.

Chauvin was convicted in April of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The jury deliberated for about 10 hours before reaching a verdict. Under Minnesota statutes, he can be sentenced only on the most serious charge: unintentional second-degree murder, which has a maximum sentence of 40 years.

In arguing for a 30-year sentence, prosecutors said there were five aggravating factors in Floyd's death. In his ruling last month, Cahill wrote that the prosecution had proven four of those factors: Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority; treated Floyd with particular cruelty; and that he committed his crime in the presence of children "who witnessed the last moments" of Floyd's life; and with the active participation of at least three other people. (Cahill said prosecutors did not prove that Floyd was particularly vulnerable.)

"It was particularly cruel to kill George Floyd slowly by preventing his ability to breathe when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear he was having trouble breathing," Cahill wrote.

Floyd "was begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die" but Chauvin "remained indifferent" to his pleas, Cahill also wrote.

Chauvin's conviction was rare. Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, has found through his research that Chauvin is one of only 11 nonfederal law enforcement officers — such as police officers, deputy sheriffs and state troopers — who have been convicted of murder for on-duty killings since 2005.

Chauvin and the three other former police officers involved in Floyd's arrest — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — were fired the day after Floyd's death. They are also awaiting trial in federal court on charges of violating Floyd's civil rights. No trial date has been set.

Cahill delayed the trial of Kueng, Lane and Thao, who are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and whose trial was originally scheduled to begin in August, to March 2022, saying last month that he wanted to put some distance between their trial and Chauvin's trial. Cahill also said he wanted them to be tried on the federal charges first.

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