(CNN) — Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted of George Floyd’s murder on a Minneapolis street last year, will be sentenced to a potentially lengthy prison stay this Friday.
Chauvin, 45, was convicted in April on felony misdemeanor charges, unintentional manslaughter with disregard for life and accidental manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s death.
Minnesota state prosecutors requested a 30-year prison sentence, saying it would “account for the profound impact of the defendant’s conduct on the victim, the victim’s family and the community,” according to a sentencing memorandum.
Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, argued that the ex-cop should receive probation and time served, or at least one sentence less than the law guides.
“Mr. Chauvin asks the Court to look beyond his conclusions, to his background, his lack of a criminal record, his possibility of parole, the unusual facts of this case and that it is the product of a ‘broken’ system Nelson wrote in a presentation.
The three-count guilty verdict against Chauvin came nearly a year after he knelt impassively on Floyd’s neck and back, handcuffed and lying face down on the street, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Beneath the policeman’s knees, the 46-year-old black man gasped for air, repeatedly exclaimed “I can’t breathe” and finally fell silent as a group of horrified onlookers watched.
Floyd’s final moments, captured on searing cell phone footage by a 17-year-old girl, illustrated with clear images what black Americans have long said about how the criminal justice system treats blacks. Floyd’s death sparked mass protests around the world, as well as incidents of looting and rioting.
His attorney has also filed a motion for a new trial.
Three other officers who were on the scene during Floyd’s fatal arrest – Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng – have pleaded not guilty to the charges of complicity. His trial is scheduled for March 2022.
How the sentence will be handed down
Sentencing will take place at 1:30 pm CT at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Judge Peter Cahill, who oversaw the trial, will also decide the sentencing.
Members of Floyd’s family will be allowed to deliver impact statements to the victims, and Chauvin will have a chance to speak before being sentenced.
Since his guilty verdict, Chauvin has been detained at the Minnesota-Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility outside Minneapolis and was placed in a separate housing unit for his own safety, a prison spokesman said. The Minnesota Department of Corrections will decide where Chauvin will serve his sentence after receiving Cahill’s sentencing order, spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald told CNN.
Legally, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for unintentional manslaughter in the commission of a felony, up to 25 years for unintentional manslaughter with disregard for life, and up to 10 years for accidental manslaughter. The felony misdemeanor charge said Chauvin assaulted Floyd with his knee, inadvertently causing Floyd’s death. The unintentional manslaughter with disregard for life charge said Chauvin acted with a “depraved mind,” and the accidental manslaughter charge said his “culpable negligence” caused Floyd’s death.
Chauvin does not have a criminal record, so Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend approximately 12 1/2 years in prison for each murder charge and approximately four years for the accidental manslaughter charge.
Sentences for the charges will likely be served concurrently, rather than consecutively, depending on the sentencing guidelines. That means that the sentence for unintentional homicide in the commission of a felony will be of primary importance.
In this case, state prosecutors asked for a harsher sentence than the recommendations provide, citing five aggravating factors they said applied. Judge Peter Cahill has ruled that four of the five factors were proven beyond reasonable doubt: (1) Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority, (2) he treated Floyd with particular cruelty, (3) minors were present during the offense, and (4) Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other people.
The findings allow the judge to sentence Chauvin beyond what the guidelines recommend.
During about three weeks of courtroom testimony, Minnesota prosecutors repeatedly told jurors to “believe what they saw” and to trust Floyd’s video.
“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it for the first time, when you saw that video. It is exactly that. You can believe what you see, “said prosecutor Steve Schleicher in his closing arguments. «This was not public order. This was murder.
The defense called seven witnesses, but not Chauvin himself, as he invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Nelson argued that Chauvin’s use of force was reasonable, that he was distracted by hostile bystanders, and that Floyd died of other causes.
Chauvin also faces other legal problems. A federal investigating jury indicted the four former police officers in connection with Floyd’s death, alleging they violated his constitutional rights, according to court documents filed in federal court in Minnesota. They are due to be arraigned on the charges in September, according to a court file.
Chauvin was also charged in a separate indictment related to an incident in which he allegedly used unreasonable force against a 14-year-old from Minneapolis in September 2017, the Justice Department said in a statement. He is also expected to be prosecuted in that case in September, according to court documents.
CNN’s Omar Jiménez and Brad Parks contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism