When former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder in the death of George Floyd, there was slight relief but one nagging question in the back of many our minds: “OK, but what’s the sentence going to be?” While there was, and still is, concern that Chauvin will face the lightest sentence possible, the judge in the case has ruled he can consider a longer than usual sentence due to certain aggravating factors.
According to the Daily Beast, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said that he believed prosecutors proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the former officer “abused his position of authority” when announcing his ruling on Wednesday. Cahill was the judge who presided over Chauvin’s hearing and added that he felt Chauvin treated Floyd with “particular cruelty” throughout the course of the arrest.
“When it became clear even to the bystanders that George Floyd was in medical distress, was no longer responsive, and had ceased breathing, [Chauvin] further abused his position of truth and authority by not rendering aid, by declining two suggestions from one of his fellow officers to place George Floyd on his side, and by preventing bystanders, including an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter, from assisting,” Cahill wrote in his ruling.
Cahil also wrote that Chauvin went against his training and used an unauthorized technique when he placed his knee on Floyd’s neck and back. Last month, a jury found Chauvin guilty on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin will receive his sentence on June 25 and could potentially face upwards of 40 years in prison.
I truly hope that Chauvin gets the maximum amount of time allowed for the sake of precedent. It’s already somewhat wild that a cop has been found guilty of murder, but it won’t mean much if the punishment is lesser than the crime. While reform is necessary to prevent tragedies like this from continuing to happen, there also needs to be clear and defined consequences for cops who act like it’s their job to be judge, jury, and executioner.
Last week, Chauvin, as well as J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao—the three other former cops involved in Floyd’s death—were indicted on civil rights violations by a federal grand jury. Kueng, Lane, and Thao have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter, according to the Star Tribune. The three will stand trial in Hennepin County on Aug. 23.