The former police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd is set to be sentenced by a Minneapolis judge on Friday, with prosecutors asking for up to 30 years in prison.
Derek Chauvin, 45, was found guilty in April after a six-week trial. The former Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest as Floyd cried for help, eventually killing him.
Floyd’s death sparked protests for racial justice across the US and the world, after the incident was filmed and posted it online. Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she filmed the murder, was later honoured with a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize board.
The murder drew attention to the disproportionate number of killings of black Americans at the hands of police and sparked a broader dialogue about racial inequality throughout American society.
Judge Peter Cahill is scheduled to sentence Chauvin at Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis at 1:30pm Central Time.
Police officers are rarely charged, let alone convicted of murder for killings committed while on duty. But a jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He will only be sentenced on the most serious charge.
Second-degree murder can carry a prison sentence of up to 40 years but is unlikely in this case, where state guidelines recommend 12-and-a-half years.
Prosecutors have asked the judge for a 30-year sentence. Cahill already has agreed that four aggravating factors are present that could warrant a longer sentence, ruling that Chauvin abused his position of authority, acted with particular cruelty and in concert with three others, and that children — who were among the crowd at the scene — witnessed the crime.
Three other officers were present when Chauvin murdered Floyd. The former officers — Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — go on trial in August for aiding and abetting murder.
The defence has asked Cahill to sentence Chauvin to probation, given that he has no previous criminal history, respected the judicial process “in the face of unparalleled public scorn and scrutiny”, and because “in spite of his mistakes, Mr Chauvin has demonstrated that he has a capacity for good, and that he has the discipline to consistently work toward worthwhile goals”.