Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has filed an appeal in the Minnesota Supreme Court over his second-degree murder conviction for the death of George Floyd.
Floyd’s 2020 death while in police custody sparked violent and deadly riots nationwide.
Chauvin had kneeled on Floyd’s neck for over three minutes as he resisted arrest, resulting in his death by asphyxiation on May 25, 2020
Chauvin’s lawyers are now asking the state’s highest court to review the lower court’s ruling that the district court “did not abuse its discretion” by declining to transfer venues, delay the trial or sequester the jury amid “pervasive pretrial publicity and community violence,” according to a report from The Hill.
The former police officer’s representation is also asking for a review of whether or not police can be convicted of unintentional murder if there was no “subjective intent” to use unreasonable force. Last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld Chauvin’s conviction and rejected this argument.
“The law only permits police officers to use reasonable force when effecting a lawful arrest,” Appeals Judge Peter Reyes wrote. “Chauvin crossed that line here when he used unreasonable force on Floyd.”
Chauvin is currently serving 22.5 years in state prison over his convictions for second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In December, Chauvin also pleaded guilty to depriving Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure. He is serving 21 years in prison for this charge, concurrently with the others.
All four officers involved in the incident have been convicted and sentenced.
J. Alexander Kueng, 28, was sentenced to three years in prison, and Tou Thao, 36, was sentenced to three and a half years last July.
Kueng and Thao were found to have deprived Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from an officer’s unreasonable force when they “willfully failed to intervene” to stop Chauvin’s “use of unreasonable force.”
The jury additionally determined that the two former officers deprived Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to serious medical needs when they saw him in need of medical care, but did not offer aid.
“Former officers Thao and Kueng each had an individual duty and opportunity to intervene in the excessive force that resulted in the agonizing death of Mr. Floyd, but both men failed to take any action,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota in a press release from the Department of Justice. “These sentences reaffirm that every law enforcement officer, whether rookie or senior, has an affirmative duty to protect individuals in their custody.”
Former Officer Thomas Lane was also found guilty, by the same jury, of depriving Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, resulting in bodily injury to Floyd and his death. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on July 21.
“All four officers involved in the tragic death of George Floyd have now been convicted in federal court, sentenced to prison and held accountable for their crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at the time.
“George Floyd’s death could have been prevented if these defendants had carried out their affirmative duty to intervene to stop another officer’s use of deadly force,” Clarke continued. “While these defendants have now been held accountable, law enforcement officers and leaders must take seriously the affirmative duty under the Constitution to intervene to stop misconduct by fellow officers and the duty to render medical aid. The federal prosecution of all officers tied to the death of George Floyd should send a clear and powerful message that the Department of Justice will never tolerate the unlawful abuse of power or victimization of Americans by anyone in law enforcement.”
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