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Attorneys representing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his second-degree murder charge in the death of George Floyd in 2020.
Chauvin is currently serving a 22.5-year prison sentence he received in June 2021 after a jury found him guilty on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd that sparked months of civil unrest resulting in 25 additional deaths and billions of dollars of property damage in cities nationwide.
The Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear the case on Tuesday that lawyers argued deprived their client of the right to a fair trial by holding the proceedings in Minneapolis, according to The Associated Press, leaving Chauvin’s legal team “obviously disappointed.”
Attorney William Morhman argued that Chauvin’s criminal trial generated the most pretrial publicity in history.
“More concerning are the riots which occurred after George Floyd’s death (and) led the jurors to all express concerns for their safety in the event they acquitted Mr. Chauvin — safety concerns which were fully evidenced by surrounding the courthouse in barbed wire and National Guard troops during the trial and deploying the National Guard throughout Minneapolis prior to jury deliberations,” he said, according to The Hill.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said that denial from the state’s highest court “means that the Court of Appeals was correct in finding that his trial was properly conducted and he was properly convicted under the law.”
“This development definitively holds Chauvin accountable and closes this chapter of the murder of George Floyd,” he added.
In the time since his conviction, Chauvin’s legal team has now been denied by the state’s top court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals to hear the appeal. Mohrman called Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill’s decision to hold the trial in Minneapolis “pervasive” because of the pretrial publicity, which put courthouse security at risk of pretrial effects.
Cahill criticized Chauvin in his ruling, writing in a memorandum the former police officer “abused his position of trust and authority” and treated Floyd “without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings.”
Video of the arrest showed Floyd resisting officers’ commands until they subdued him on the ground moments before he died after Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s shoulders and neck for roughly nine minutes.
The Hennepin Medical County Examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” according to Reuters. The report also noted methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, along with hypertension and coronary artery disease.
Floyd’s family commissioned a separate autopsy report that ruled his death as a homicide by asphyxia due to neck and back compression, ruling out any other medical issues noted by the county coroner.
The U.S. Supreme Court only hears approximately 150 of the 7,000 requested appeals annually.
Chauvin, who is currently serving his two-decade sentence in Arizona, is one of four other officers involved in the case.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a federal jury last year for depriving Floyd of his constitutional right by his “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs” when he saw Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s back. Lane later pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to NPR.
Former officers J. Alexander Kueng, who knelt on Floyd’s back, and Tou Thao, who kept bystanders from intervening during the restraint, were also convicted on federal civil rights charges, including depriving Floyd of his right to medical care and failing to intervene, according to The Associated Press. Kueng was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, while Thao awaits sentencing in a state court.