State prosecutors on Monday elaborated on how they plan on pursuing upward sentencing departures against the former cops charged in the alleged murder of Minneapolis man George Floyd.
From the motion submitted by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, and Sundeep Iyer:
At the September 11 hearing, the Court asked the State for additional briefing addressing the following questions: (i) Whether the particular vulnerability of the victim justifies an upward sentencing departure when the defendants are responsible for creating the victim’s vulnerability; and (ii) Whether a defendant’s abuse of a position of authority supports an upward sentencing departure even if there is not a pre-existing relationship of trust between the defendant and the victim. The answer to both questions is yes.
As seen on video, then-Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck during an arrest. J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Kiernan Lane also held Floyd down. A fourth officer, Tou Thao, stood between the scene and bystanders who were angry about what transpired and pointed out that Floyd was unresponsive. Authorities carried the Floyd’s limp body onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.
Prosecutors said the victim, indeed, became unresponsive, and died as a result of the arrest. All four defendants lost their jobs because of it. Chauvin faces a case for second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. If convicted of the first charge, he faces up to 40 years in prison. The other three defendants are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Prosecutors previously asserted grounds on which they wanted to pursue upward departure for sentencing, including that defendants treated Floyd with cruelty and acted in the presence of kids. On Monday, prosecutors elaborated on two bases: Floyd was “particularly vulnerable”; the defendants abused their position of authority as cops.
“Defendants handcuffed Floyd’s arms behind his back, pressed him chest-down into the pavement, and rendered him unconscious,” prosecutors said. “As a result, Floyd was ‘particularly vulnerable’ when Defendants committed the crime, and Defendants knew or should have known as much.”
Attorneys for the defendants are fighting the charges; all four former officers agreed to their court proceedings to be televised. Each defendant is out on bond ahead of trial, which is currently scheduled for March 2021.
[Mugshots via Hennepin County Jail]
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