Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday when he could face decades in prison.
Prosecutors are calling for a 30-year sentence, saying the former officer “brutally murdered Mr. Floyd, abusing the authority conferred by his badge.” For someone with no criminal history, Minnesota sentencing guidelines suggest a range of just over 10 and a half years to 15 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Chauvin’s defense team is requesting probation or a shorter prison term, citing his lack of criminal history and previous work.
Richard Frase, a criminal law professor at the University of Minnesota, said it’s not uncommon for Chauvin’s defense team to request probation but said the judge would have to find “substantial and compelling circumstances” to grant this. “Given the extreme high visibility of this case and the very strong feelings about this case, I would be surprised if the judge did grant probation,” Frase said.
In April, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Graphic videos captured Chauvin, who is White, kneeling on the neck of Floyd, who is Black, for more than nine minutes during a May 2020 Chauvin has been held at the state’s only maximum-security prison, the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights.
Three other former officers involved in Floyd’s fatal arrest also face state and federal charges.
Judge Peter Cahill, who will be sentencing Chauvin on Friday, previously found “aggravating factors” that could subject the former officer to a longer sentence than the 15 years suggested by state guidelines. Cahill said that Floyd was “begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die” but that Chauvin “objectively remained indifferent to Floyd’s pleas” and acted with particular cruelty.
In May, the attorneys representing Floyd’s family, including attorney Ben Crump, applauded Cahill’s finding, saying that it could “appropriately” lengthen Chauvin’s sentence.
“The application of justice in this case offers hope that we will see real change in the relationship between police and people of color holding officers properly accountable for egregious behavior and for failing to honor the sanctity of all lives,” the attorneys said in a statement.
Two groups — the Communities United Against Police Brutality and Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence — have scheduled a March for Friday afternoon in downtown Minneapolis. They’re expecting more than one hundred attendees.
On Friday, Cahill will consider recommendations from both prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense team, along with a pre-sentencing investigation report prepared by the Department of Corrections on Friday afternoon at the Hennepin County Government Center.
Nekima Levy Armstrong, who leads the local Racial Justice Network, said she doesn’t believe a sentence of 10 to 15 years is enough. “I think we have a long way to go before we can talk restorative justice in this situation because of the fact that people are still grieving,” Armstrong recently said at a virtual panel. “To think about restorative justice at a moment like this is very difficult and far removed from the reality of our thinking as many Black people in Minnesota and across this country.”