Prosecutors for the state of Minnesota are requesting a 30-year prison sentence for Derek Chauvin, the former officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd, according to a sentencing memo filed Wednesday.
Thirty years is “twice the upper end of the presumptive sentencing range,” according to the memo filed with the District Court of Hennepin County on Wednesday. It “would properly account for the profound impact of Defendant’s conduct on the victim, the victim’s family, and the community,” the state argued.
With just weeks until the former Minneapolis police officer’s sentencing, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued in a filing Wednesday that Chauvin should instead receive probation and time served, or at least a sentence less than what the law guides.
“Mr. Chauvin asks the Court to look beyond its findings, to his background, his lack of criminal history, his amenability to probation, to the unusual facts of this case, and to his being a product of a ‘broken’ system,” Nelson wrote. “Mr. Chauvin’s offense is best described as an error made in good faith reliance his own experience as a police officer and the training he had received – not intentional commission of an illegal act.”
Nelson also wrote, “A stringent probationary sentence with incarceration limited to time served would achieve the purposes of the sentence in this case.”
Floyd died May 25, 2020, after Chauvin placed his knee on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”
Chauvin was convicted April 20 of second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. He will have 90 days to appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals after the lower court enters a final judgment and imposes a sentence.
Defense again requests a new trial
Also Wednesday, Nelson filed a memorandum supplementing a motion last month asking for a new trial.
In the 54-page memo, Nelson highlighted multiple examples of alleged prosecutorial misconduct, juror misconduct, witness intimidation and a “barrage” of “prejudicial news” that he says prevented the former Minneapolis police officer from receiving a fair trial.
“The media coverage in this case is like a bomb explosion: Hennepin and Ramsey counties are ground zero and although felt far and wide, the effects of the explosion diminish as they ripple outward from the Twin Cities,” Nelson said in the memo.
“Ever since the incident, potential jurors in the Twin Cities have been faced with daily, one-sided reminders of the events of May 25, 2020. Signs demanding “Justice for George” are a regular sight in Twin Cities neighborhoods,” Nelson added.
The filing also cites publicity from the City of Minneapolis’ $27 million settlement with the Floyd family announced during jury selection, the fatal officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright during the trial in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and included comments made by US Rep. Maxine Waters, who called for protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin were to be acquitted.
Nelson even noted the defense’s case and the potential outcome of the proceedings were mocked on the opening of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” during the trial.
Chauvin’s attorney repeatedly argues in the filing that many of these issues could have been corrected if Judge Peter Cahill had granted a change of venue.
“The Court’s failure to do so was a prejudicial abuse of discretion that violated Mr. Chauvin’s constitutional due rights, and a new trial must be granted,” Nelson said.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office declined to comment on the new filing from Nelson on Wednesday. The office has until June 9 to file a response to the memo in writing with the court.
Prosecutors cite aggravating factors