Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin faces the prospect of a lengthier prison sentence after a judge this week agreed with prosecutors that he abused his position of authority while arresting George Floyd a year ago.
The attorneys said prosecutors leaked "damning" information to the New York Times about Chauvin's supposed plan to plead guilty and asked Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill to sanction prosecutors, including state Attorney General Keith Ellison. Cahill said the factors he will consider when sentencing the former Minneapolis police officer include his abuse of authority, the fact that he "treated George Floyd with particular cruelty", the presence of children, and that Chauvin committed the crime with the "active participation" of at least three other people.
The other former officers who were at the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death and are set to go on trial on August 23.
"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", the judge wrote.
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin faces sentencing for the most serious crime he was convicted of, second-degree murder. The judge also said he wants to put distance between the state trial and the massive publicity that surrounded Derek Chauvin's murder trial - which Cahill also oversaw. However, prosecutors asked for what is called "upward departure", and argued Chauvin abused his authority as an officer and should receive a longer sentence that what would normally be recommended.
A pre-sentence investigation report will also be conducted.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
Chauvin's sentencing is scheduled for June 25.
Chauvin's defence argued that the aggravating factors were unproved and that the defendant was legally authorised to use reasonable force.
A video taken by a bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as he was handcuffed facedown on the street struggling to breathe. The three other former officers involved in Floyd's death were also charged with federal civil rights violations; they await trial in state court on aiding and abetting counts.