In a recent court filing Friday, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office charged that Chauvin, who was arrested on murder and manslaughter charges last week, “inflicted gratuitous pain, and caused psychological distress to Mr. Floyd and to the bystanders.”
“Despite Mr. Floyd’s repeated pleas that he could not breathe, and despite the repeated pleas of bystanders on the scene, Defendant pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck and upper back for nine minutes and 29 seconds,” prosecutors wrote. “As noted, Defendant maintained that position-again, for a matter of minutes, not seconds-even after Mr. Floyd went silent, and even after officers knew that Mr. Floyd no longer had a pulse.”
The filing does not prescribe a single punishment, although it does cite many “aggravating factors” that conclude Chauvin should face a longer sentence than Minnesota’s rules usually suggest.
They include Floyd being “particularly vulnerable,” Chauvin acting as part of a gang, and the crime being committed in the presence of many children.
Chauvin was also accused of abusing his power of authority as a police officer, according to the filing.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, also filed a memorandum Friday countering that there were no legal grounds to consider aggravating factors.
“Because the state has failed to meet its burden of proving the existence of the alleged aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, the court may not consider them in making its sentencing determination,” he wrote.
Nelson concluded that violating power as a police officer is not a legitimate aggravating factor, and that the factor of minors involved is usually used in domestic abuse cases where children are present and unable to leave the scene, while the children who witnessed Floyd’s killing were present willingly.
As Chauvin awaits his June 25 sentencing, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill will review the filings to determine whether aggravating factors exist, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Chauvin was guilty last week of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree homicide.
According to Ted Sampsell-Jones, a law professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, if Cahill considers aggravating circumstances and imposes them at sentencing, Chauvin may face up to 30 years in jail. If those conditions are not considered, he may face a potential sentence of 15 years.
J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, Chauvin’s three former colleagues who were present at the scene, will be charged together Aug. 23 on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter, but are reportedly out on parole.
Prosecutors will try to incorporate a third-degree murder charge against Thao, Lane, and Kueng at a Minnesota Court of Appeals hearing later this month, according to The Washington Post.