Accountability in the Derek Chauvin Trials
April 20, 2021. A day of history, not justice but accountability. A crime captured on camera and witnessed by a crowd of people, including a 9-year old girl. 9 minutes and 29 seconds of pleading for his life but to no avail. George Floyd had already lost consciousness 2 minutes before.
In the wake of public outcry and protest in opposition to police use of excessive force, much has changed. The banning of no-knock warrants, which resulted in the murder of Breonna Taylor and some school districts are employing racial equality policies in an effort to disegregate schools. However, in some states, like Illinois, it has become illegal for citizens to record on duty-police and in Florida bills making it easier to run over protestors.
At the conclusion of the Derek Chauvin trial, a crowd of people, tears in their eyes rejoicing at long-awaited accountability. The celebratory reaction speaks to the irregularity of this case, typically accountability is not met in cases of police officers who have killed unarmed black people.
The truth is that there are so many George Floyd’s, there have been so many George Floyds, and will, unfortunately, continue to be George Floyds if action is not done to address the tree of bad apples, not just bad apples. “This was something unique. The world saw what happened,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. Action would be addressing lethal restraints permitted and a re-evaluation of training based on perishable skills that can result in death.
The following are the three charged Chauvin was found guilty of:
Second-degree unintentional felony murder: Chauvin committed a felony assault that resulted in George Floyd’s death.
Third-degree depraved mind murder: Causing death through dangerous actions, with a lack of regard for human life.
Second-degree involuntary manslaughter: A lesser extent of the third degree.
The following is the minimum sentencing considering someone, like Chauvin, with no criminal history:
2nd-degree murder: 12.5 years
3rd-degree murder: 12.5 years
2nd-degree manslaughter: 4 years
These charges and their respective sentences are not served back-to-back. Sentences can either be served concurrently or consecutively. When sentences run concurrently, defendants serve all sentences at the same time. When sentences run consecutively, defendants have to finish serving one sentence before they begin serving the other offense. Whether or not a sentence runs consecutively or concurrently makes a major difference.
According to AP News, “Even though he was found guilty of three counts, under Minnesota statutes he’ll only be sentenced on the most serious one — second-degree murder. While that count carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, experts say he won’t get that much. They say that for all practical purposes, the maximum he would face is 30 years, and he could get less… Experts say the max will be 30 years — double the high end of the guideline range. If Judge Peter Cahill were to sentence Chauvin to anything above that, he risks having his decision reversed on appeal.”
Sentencing is expected to take place on June 25th. That date will be another testament to accountability and whether or not this Chauvin’s trial and sentencing will, in all aspects, be an exception to the accountability of police officers who have killed unarmed black people.