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Derek Chauvin abused his authority and acted with “particular cruelty” when he pressed his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes — which could land him a longer prison sentence, according to a ruling made public Wednesday.
Minnesota Judge Peter Cahill found that prosecutors had proven four of the five aggravating factors in Floyd’s murder that warranted a possible upward departure in sentencing.
“The slow death of George Floyd occurring over approximately six minutes of his positional asphyxia was particularly cruel in that Mr. Floyd was begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die but during which the Defendant objectively remained indifferent to Mr. Floyd’s pleas,” Cahill wrote in the order dated Tuesday.
Cahill said Chauvin and two others officers held a handcuffed Floyd in a prone position for an “inordinate amount of time” — and that Chauvin knew the position was dangerous.
“The prolonged use of this technique was particularly egregious in that George Floyd made it clear he was unable to breathe and expressed the view that he was dying as a result of the officers’ restraint,” the judge wrote.
Chauvin, 45, was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death last year.
Under Minnesota law, he will only be sentenced on second-degree murder — the top charge — which carries a sentence of between 10 years eight months and 15 years.
With Cahill’s ruling, Chauvin could get as much as 40 years at his June 25 sentencing — though sentences rarely exceed double the guideline maximum, Minnesota attorney Samuel McCloud previously told The Post.
Cahill found that prosecutors proved other aggravating factors, including that Chauvin committed the crime in front of four children.
Floyd, 46, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe and begged to be let up as he slowly lost consciousness and died — all while a group of bystanders urged Chauvin to relent. The tragic killing was captured on cellphone footage that quickly went viral.
But Cahill said prosecutors failed to prove the fifth aggravating factor — that Floyd was particularly vulnerable, noting that even while handcuffed, he was able to struggle with officers as they tried to put him in a squad car.
Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson had argued against the upward departure, saying Chauvin had legal authority to assist in Floyd’s arrest and was authorized under law to use reasonable force.
Chauvin will most likely serve two-thirds of whatever sentence he gets — and the rest on supervised release for good behavior behind bars.
Three other cops, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, are awaiting a state trial on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
Chauvin and the other officers were also indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury on charges they violated Floyd’s civil rights.
With Post wires
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