The former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder was sentenced last year to more than 22 years in prison.
The former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd has appealed his murder sentence, arguing that the jury was prejudiced, among other things, by the continuing protests and excessive pre-trial propaganda.
Derek Chauvin’s attorneys filed in a courtroom earlier this week asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn his sentence, reverse the verdict, and order a new trial at a new location or order outrage.
A Minneapolis jury found Chauvin guilty of murder last year in the murder of Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death in 2020 sparked nationwide protests demanding an end to police brutality and anti-black racism.
A judge later sentenced the former officer to 22.5 years in prison. Chauvin held his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, as the 46-year-old repeatedly pleaded he could not breathe.
This week, Chauvin’s attorney, William Mohrman, put forward several challenges to his sentencing, including his longstanding argument that the trial should not have taken place in Hennepin County, where Floyd was murdered.
“Heavy media coverage exposed jurors – literally every day – to news featuring Chauvin and glorifying Floyd, which was more than enough to assume bias,” the brief said.
Mohrman said several potential jurors expressed concern during jury selection that they would fear for their personal safety and worried about more violence if Chauvin was acquitted. He said many of them indicated they were intimidated by the security measures implemented in court to protect trial participants from demonstrators.
The filing also cited the fatal shooting of Don’t Wright by a police officer at the nearby Brooklyn Center during Chauvin’s trial. It said that the jurors should have been separated after selection to avoid bias from that murder report.
It also cited a $27m settlement between the city and Floyd’s family that was announced during jury selection, adding that prejudicial jurors’ timing in the case.
Mohrman pointed to several instances of alleged prosecution misconduct, including claims of timely sharing of evidence, failure to disclose and document dumping by the government.
The filing also said that the judge did not correctly apply the sentencing guidelines and should not have included “abuse of position of authority” as a serious punishment factor for the former police officer.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has 45 days to respond to Chauvin’s brief.
The filing comes days after a state investigation that began after Floyd was killed, concluded that Minneapolis police engaged in an illegal “pattern or practice” of racial discrimination.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights said in its 75-page report Wednesday that Minneapolis police arrest and use force against people of color, especially black individuals, more often than white people in similar settings.
Minneapolis police use covert social media to survey black people and black organizations related to any criminal activity, while they consistently use racist, misogynistic and abusive language.
The report also noted that officers and supervisors receive inadequate training that emphasizes a paramilitary approach, and lack accountability for officers who engage in misconduct, the report also said.