Chauvin’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 25. His attorney, Eric Nelson, filed a motion on Wednesday asking the court to limit his client’s sentence to between 10 and 15 years. “Mr. Chauvin asks the Court to look beyond its findings, to his background, his lack of criminal history, his amenability to probation, to the unusual facts of this case, and to his being a product of a ‘broken’ system,” Nelson wrote. He also alleged that his client’s offense is “best described as an error made in good faith reliance his own experience as a police officer and the training he had received—not intentional commission of an illegal act.”
If the pre-sentencing document is any indication, it’s not looking good for the defense. Judge Peter Cahill already agreed with four of five of the prosecution’s claims that there were “aggravated sentencing factors” to qualify a longer sentence for the ex-cop in a pre-sentencing court document filed last month. Cahill found that Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority; was particularly cruel; committed an act of crime in the presence of children; and committed a crime as part of a group of at least three other people.
Nelson, however, argued for a shorter sentence because of the one aggravating factor Cahill parted with the prosecution on—that Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” in comparison with other murder victims. Cahill determined Floyd was not. “Although George Floyd was handcuffed, he had still been able to resist arrest and to prevent three police officers from seating him in a squad car before he was placed in the prone position, so that, by itself, did not create a particular vulnerability,” Cahill wrote.
Nelson also contended in his motion that Chauvin’s age as a 45-year-old man should be considered in sentencing him. “Independent of the long-term damage a prison sentence would inflict upon Mr. Chauvin’s life prospects, given his age, convictions for officer-involved offenses significantly increase the likelihood of him becoming a target in prison,” the attorney wrote. “Such safety concerns are evident by his presentence solitary confinement in a high-security prison.”
Nelson later added: “Mr. Chauvin still has the ability to positively impact his family and his community. Thus, Mr. Chauvin’s age is a substantial and compelling factor that supports a downward dispositional departure in sentencing.”
Twitter users weren’t swayed by the reasoning. Democrat Jake Lobin tweeted: “George Floyd said, ‘I can’t breathe’ twenty-seven times before Derek Chauvin was finished executing him. TWENTY. SEVEN. TIMES. And now Chauvin wants probation because of what a long jail sentence will do to his life prospects?? Oh please. Lock him up & throw away the key!”
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich disputed the defense’s claim of Chauvin’s clean background pointing to a history of complaints against him. “Before killing George Floyd, Derek Chauvin evaded accountability for at least 17 complaints, thanks to the egregious protections in his police union contract,” Reich tweeted. “Let’s get one thing straight: This is not what unions were created to do.”