Minnesota judge’s ruling allows longer sentence for Derek Chauvin in George Floyd murder case

The Minnesota judge who oversaw Derek Chauvin’s murder trial issued a ruling on Wednesday that could significantly increase the amount of time Chauvin spends in prison.

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.

In the opinion made public on Wednesday, Judge Peter Cahill said that the prosecution proved that Chauvin had “abused [his] position of trust and authority,” “treated George Floyd with particular cruelty,” and committed his crime in the presence of children and “with the active participation of at least three other persons.” This finding of what are known as aggravating factors allows Cahill to sentence Chauvin to more time behind bars.

The prosecution attempted to argue a fifth aggravating factor, that Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” because he was handcuffed, “in a prone position with the weight of three police officers on him for a prolonged period,” and intoxicated. However, Cahill found that “the Court, acting as a trier of fact with regard to sentencing facts, finds that the [previous] facts were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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 August 23, 2021.