Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin will face sentencing on Friday at about 2:30 pm eastern time for the death of George Floyd. Experts are weighing in that Chauvin could receive a 30-year prison term.
Since the verdict from a jury of his peers was “please don’t hurt us,” I think Chauvin will get at least the 30 years the prosecution has asked for, but something tells me he’ll get the maximum.
Chauvin, 45, was convicted two months ago in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter (the third-degree charge doesn’t even make sense) for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. The arrest scene was captured on video that set the world on fire with riots, looting, murder, and mayhem that the mainstream news media seemed to celebrate almost as much as the Democratic Party.
The sentencing hearing could last as long as two hours. The most serious charge the former officer was convicted of was second-degree murder and that’s the only one the judge will sentence him for because the way Minnesota law works is all the charges against him stem from one act over one victim.
The maximum for second-degree murder is 40 years, though legal experts say there’s no way he’s going to get that many years in his sentencing.
Though theoretically there is the chance the size of a pimple on a gnat’s rear end that Judge Cahill will sentence Chauvin to less than the 30 years the prosecution has asked for. In what can only be considered a Hail Mary call, Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson has asked for probation.
Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines were written to provide consistent sentences that do not consider factors like gender or race. Yeah, we can throw that out the window on this one.
On second-degree unintentional murder, the guideline for someone who doesn’t have a criminal record ranges from ten years and eight months to fifteen years in prison, with an average resulting in about 12 and a half years.
Last month, the judge agreed with the prosecutors that the aggravating factors of Floyd’s death call for dismissing the guidelines and going higher. Cahill believes Chauvin abused his authority and treated Floyd with specific cruelty, and the crime was witnessed by several children. On top of that, Cahill wrote that Chauvin knew the neck restraint was dangerous.
“The prolonged use of this technique was particularly egregious in that George Floyd made it clear he was unable to breathe and expressed the view that he was dying as a result of the officers’ restraint,” Cahill wrote.
Didn’t we see photographs presented by the defense that showed Chauvin’s knee was not actually on Floyd’s neck but was on his shoulder? Whatevs, right?
Some believe that a 20 to 25 year sentence is more likely because even though Judge Cahill found aggravating factors, which lends to the belief that he is willing to go above the guidelines, those guidelines still act like a tether, and the further he goes beyond the guidelines the harder it will be to stretch that tether without an appeal on the grounds of bias when compared to sentences for similar cases.
Sentencing data for Minnesota for five years through 2019 shows that there were 112 people who have been sentenced for the same conviction that Chauvin received and of that group only two got the 40-year maximum sentence. Both of those cases had defendants with prior criminal records and both involved children who died. The longest sentence for someone with no criminal history was 36 years on a case over the death of a 13-month-old child who was beaten to death.
But remember, this is Derek Chauvin and we are in unchartered waters.
Attorneys from the prosecution and defense are expected to make brief arguments. Family members by law are also allowed to make statements over how they have been affected by the crime, however, no one so far has said that they will do so.
Chauvin has been held at a maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights, the state’s only maximum-security facility, since his April conviction. It is unusual that people don’t usually wait in prison for their sentencing hearing, but Chauvin has a life expectancy lower than a chevy at a red light in Detroit. He has been on what’s called “administrative segregation” for his own safety in a 10 by 10 cell and not in the general population. His meals are delivered to him and he’s been allowed one hour a day for solitary exercise.