State, Defense Fight Over Whether Derek Chauvin Acted with’Particular Cruelty’ in Fight to Discover Proper Sentence

Derek Chauvin

Minnesota prosecutors are pressing on a judge to issue a”aggravated sentence” from Derek Chauvin. However, his defense has countered the state is stretching the law by seeking a tougher sentence for the now-convicted former police officer.

In papers filed Friday, prosecutors used by working with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office termed five factors which they think support a higher than usual sentence. Those facts are (1) that victim George Floyd”was a particularly vulnerable victim,” (2) which Floyd”was medicated with special cruelty,” (3) which Chauvin”abused his position of authority,” (4 ) ) which Chauvin acted as a part of”a number of 3 or four persons that all actively engaged” (which can be relevant under Minnesota law); and (5) who Chauvin”committed the offense in the presence of multiple kids.”
“Any one of those five crucial factors are adequate on its own to justify an upward sentencing departure,” prosecutors claimed. “Below, all five employ. The State therefore respectfully requests the Court discover the facts essential to confirm the occurrence of those five significant factors, and that the Court impose an aggravated sentence on such basis.”
Concerning the first variable, prosecutors contended as followed:
Defendant’s criminal conduct happened while Mr. Floyd was at a vulnerable place on the floor: The evidence at trial revealed the officers handcuffed Mr. Floyd’s arms behind his back and held him down at the prone position, with his chest against the sidewalk. Defendant was trained this place posed a significant risk of positional asphyxia.
Concerning the second variable alleging”special cruelty”:
Despite Mr. Floyd’s repeated pleas he couldn’t breathe, despite the repeated pleas of all bystanders on the scene, Defendant pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck and upper back for about 2 minutes and 29 minutes. As mentioned, Defendant claimed that position, for a matter of minutes, not moments –after Mr. Floyd went quiet, and even after officers understood that Mr. Floyd no longer had a pulse. Mr. Floyd also continued substantial facial abrasions and bruising as a result of being pressed liberally into the sidewalk. Defendant’s actions inflicted unnecessary pain, also caused psychological distress to Mr. Floyd as well as the bystanders. Additionally, despite Mr. Floyd’s obvious signs of health distress, despite Defendant’s training, Defendant made no attempt to do CPR or contribute Mr. Floyd medical care, and discouraged the others about the scene by providing Mr. Floyd with medical care.
The court documents do not ask a specific term of years to get Chauvin’s sentence.

The defense countered that all of those factors that the nation is pressing are contained in the statute; the next — which Chauvin abused his jurisdiction is not. The defense also said Chauvin waived his right to possess the factors established by a jury,”as is his prerogative, leaving it to the Court to ascertain whether the State has met its burden”
“Mr. Chauvin entered in the officers’ encounter with Mr. Floyd with legal authority to assist in effecting the legal arrest of an actively-resisting unlawful defendant,” the defense lasted. “Mr. Chauvin was approved, under Minnesota law, to use reasonable force to achieve that. Early in the encounter with Mr. Floyd, officials had known for emergency medical services (“EMS”). The call to EMS was upgraded after Mr. Chauvin’s arrival on scene. The whole period of time in which the crime of conviction was dedicated was a matter of moments — perhaps as little as three, but surely less than half an hour.”
The defense subsequently said Floyd was not”particularly vulnerable”:
Facts establishing a victim was particularly vulnerable, and that the offender knew or ought to have known about the vulnerability, must be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. The State appears to argue that the simple fact that Mr. Floyd was rendered him particularly vulnerable. The facts clearly demonstrate that simply being handcuffed failed to render Mr. Floyd”particularly vulnerable”
Mr. Floyd was over six feet tall, muscle, also weighed in more than two hundred pounds. He was handcuffed at the beginning of the encounter and, like Officers Lane and Kueng tried to put Floyd in their squad car, he began to actively resist arrest. After Mr. Chauvin united in the battle, Mr. Floyd still managed to prevent himself from becoming subdued until officers were eventually able to restrain him on the floor, at which he continued to fight. He was on the floor to get a total of about nine minutes until EMS arrived. Floyd managed to continue struggling during some of his restraint.
The factual scenario is considerably different from other cases in Minnesota law by which a victim was shown to be particularly vulnerable when jumped.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, went on to assert that Chauvin was not”particularly cruel” toward Floyd. He mentioned other instances which did find”particular cruelty” but which were distinct from Chauvin’s case on the following grounds:
In those instances, the witnesses of the defendants’ conduct either suffered incapacity, making them particularly vulnerable, or have been closely related to the victim as both relatives or family members.
[ … ]
Here, none of those witnesses were relatives or friends of George Floyd, nor did any of those witnesses claim to understand George Floyd. Importantly, none of the witnesses’ observation of this incident was unlike individuals in relevant caselaw: ” They were free — and in reality, encouraged by Officer Thao — to leave at any time they desired.
The defense further injures the state’s other arguments by asserting, in part, the state can not demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt three others”actively engaged” in the offense because the 3 additional officers — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao — have not been convicted. Their trial is scheduled for late August.
The most recent argument for an upward sentencing departure — which isa sentence higher than that contemplated by the typical grid used by Minnesota judges are, essentially, an extension of court documents filed beginning annually. The state filed notice on August 28, 2020, it would find out a tougher sentence. Additional briefs were filed on October 12, 2020.
Does It Really Matter?
The typical grid for Chauvin’s top count, unintentional second-degree murder for a defendant who has no criminal history, is 150 months (12.5 years). On the other hand, the true second-degree murder statute authorizes a sentence of up to 40 decades.
For this count, the Treaty calls for the exact potential sentence as second-degree murder (12.5 years), but the maximum is 25 decades.
Finally, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree manslaughter. Sentencing guidelines require a Grade 8 sentence of four decades, however the statute authorizes up to ten decades.
Read the prosecution arguments below:
MN v Chauvin – State’s Memo to Aggravated Sentence by Law&Crime on Scribd
Read the defense rebuttal below:
MN v Chauvin – Def Memo Opp Upward Sentencing by Law&Crime on Scribd
[Editor’s notice: Legal citations have been omitted from some quotations.]
[Picture via screengrab from the Law&Crime Network.]
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