Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin appealed his conviction and sentence for the 2020 murder of George Floyd in a court filing Monday.
In the appeal, Chauvin’s lawyers raise over a dozen issues regarding the proceedings, claiming they were tainted due to pretrial publicity and protests outside the courthouse.
His attorneys are asking the court to either reverse his conviction and grant him a new trial out of Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, or return the case to a lower court for resentencing.
‘The overwhelming media coverage exposed the jurors — literally every day — to news demonizing Chauvin and glorifying Floyd which was more than sufficient to presume prejudice,’ the appeal said.
‘However, the real problem is the jurors expressed concern for (i) they and their families’ personal safety and (ii) riots breaking out in the event they acquitted Chauvin,’ his lawyers said.
Chauvin was convicted in April 2021 of killing Floyd by kneeling on the black man’s neck during a 2020 arrest. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison last June, and in December pleaded guilty to charges that he violated Floyd’s civil rights.
In a 72-page court filing, Chauvin’s attorneys said the pretrial publicity and protests, jurors’ concerns for their safety and the possibility of riots if Chauvin was acquitted prevented him from getting a fair trial.
Chauvin’s attorneys argue that a change of venue for the trial, which was held in the county where Floyd was killed, was necessary in this case.
‘There are few cases involving such violent threats by the community in the event the jury finds the defendant not guilty. Those cases — which all involved defendant police officers — required transfer of venue,’ the attorneys said in the filing.
The threat of violence as a result of the trial was ‘extreme’ his lawyers argued, and since the jury was not sequestered, they saw this risk on the daily.
‘The courthouse was surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers during the trial. Prior to jury deliberations, National Guard troops were deployed throughout Minneapolis, businesses boarded up their buildings and schools were closed ‘bracing for a riot’ in the event Chauvin’s acquittal,’ the filing said.
His attorneys also argued that if the conviction is upheld, the court should reduce Chauvin’s sentence since the guidelines for someone without a criminal history is 150 months, while Chauvin was sentenced to 270 months.
When Chauvin was sentenced, Judge Peter Cahill wrote that the case warranted a harsher sentence because Chauvin ‘abused his position of trust and authority’ and denied Floyd ‘the dignity owed to all human beings.’
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