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Chauvin found guilty on all counts

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

 

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three counts filed against him in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

 

His sentencing will take place in approximately eight weeks. His bond was immediately revoked and he was taken into custody after the reading of the verdict.

 

For all three charges, prosecutors had to prove that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and that his use of force was unreasonable.

Prosecutors in the case were not required to prove Chauvin’s restraint was the sole cause of Floyd’s death, only that his conduct was a “substantial causal factor.” A police officer is authorized to use force, as long as that force is reasonable.

To find Chauvin guilty on any of these counts, jurors were required find that Chauvin used a level of force that would be considered unreasonable to an objective officer in his position, without the benefit of hind site.

The charges differ only slightly when it comes to Chauvin’s state of mind. Second-degree murder requires some level of intent,  not an intent to kill but that Chauvin intended to apply unlawful force to Floyd. The lower charge of manslaughter requires proof of culpable negligence.

 

A guilty decision on the second-degree murder charge, also known as felony murder, required prosecutors to show that Chauvin killed Floyd while committing or trying to commit a felony. In this case, that felony was third-degree assault. They were not required to prove Chauvin intended to kill Floyd, only that he intended to apply unlawful force that caused bodily harm.

 

The charge of third-degree murder required jurors to find Chauvin caused Floyd’s death through an action that was “eminently dangerous” and carried out with a reckless disregard for and conscious indifference to the loss of life.

 

A guilty decision on second-degree manslaughter, the lower of the three charges, required prosecutors to show that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death through culpable negligence that created an unreasonable risk, and that he consciously took the chance of causing severe injury or death.

 

Each count carries a different maximum sentence. Second-degree unintentional murder has a max sentence of 40 years. Third-degree murder carries a max sentence of 25 years. Second-degree manslaughter carries a max sentence of 10 years.

 

The prosecution will reportedly be seeking a sentence that goes above the guideline ranges, citing several aggravating factors. First, they point out that Floyd was particularly vulnerable. Second, that Chauvin was a uniformed officer acting in a position of authority and his crime was witnessed by multiple children, including a nine-year-old girl who testified that watching the restraint made her “sad and kind of mad.”

 

Chauvin waived his right to have a jury decide if aggravating factors existed, leaving the decision on sentencing in the hands of Judge Peter Cahill.

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