Derek Chauvin unlikely to get maximum 40-year sentence, here's why experts predict 25
Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, June 24, after he was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in what proved to be a watershed case for the United States, resulting in not only nationwide but a global discussion about racial injustice.
Chauvin was convicted on April 20 of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes as the African-American man struggled to breathe till he fell unconscious and eventually died. The entire incident was caught on the camera of a bystander. It was later revealed that Chauvin's act of police brutality went down during Floyd’s arrest for suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
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Why Chauvin might not receive maximum sentence
Although a number of social media users have already started to demand Chauvin be given life imprisonment, he might not even receive 40 years in jail, which is the maximum sentence he faces under Minnesota statutes, according to Associated Press. As far as Judge Peter Cahill, who will be presiding over the sentencing, is concerned, he can impose only a maximum of a 30-year sentence, according to case law without risk of it being overturned on appeal.
The prosecutors seemed to have been well aware of that as they have asked for 30 years too. They have requested for the permissible maximum sentence saying that Chauvin’s actions were egregious and “shocked the nation’s conscience.” On the other hand, defense attorney Eric Nelson requested probation, saying Chauvin was the product of a “broken” system and “believed he was doing his job.”
There is the indication that Cahill is leaning to agree with the prosecutors in the case as he has already found that aggravating factors in Floyd’s death warrant going higher than the 12 1/2-year sentence, which is recommended by the state’s sentencing guidelines. Chauvin was found by the judge to have abused his position of authority and treated Floyd with particular cruelty. The fact that the crime was seen by several children also contributed to the aggression.
Cahill also agreed that Chauvin knew the restraint of Floyd 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 in May.
Experts say Chauvin will get 25-30 years
Even experts think that the judge will not be imposing a 40-year prison sentence. Defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, told CBS Minnesota that he expects the judge to hand down a sentence of between 25 and 30 years. "Basically, the issue's going to be how much greater than 150 months will the judge issue the sentence," he added.
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison told 60 Minutes that while he feels satisfied in seeing Chauvin getting convicted, he also felt sympathy for the former officer. "I spent 16 years as a criminal defense lawyer. So, I will admit, I felt a little bad for the defendant. I think he deserved to be convicted. But he's a human being," Ellison said. "I'm not in any way wavering from my responsibility. But I hope we never forget that people who are defendants in our criminal justice system, that they're human beings.They're people. I mean, George Floyd was a human being. And so I'm not going to ever forget that everybody in this process is a person."
As to whether the judge would choose to hand down the maximum sentence in order to send a "message," Ellison told CBS: "I think it is important for the Court to not go light or heavy. I don't know if it's right for a judge to send a message through a sentence because the sentence should be tailored to the offense, tailored to the circumstances of the case. Look, the State never wanted revenge against Derek Chauvin. We just wanted accountability."