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Prosecutors to seek stiff penalties for cops in Floyd death

Associated Press

St. Paul, Minn. — Prosecutors in the case against four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd intend to seek stiff sentences if the men are convicted, saying in court documents filed Friday that Floyd was vulnerable as he was handcuffed with his chest pressed against the ground and he was treated with particular cruelty.

This combination of file photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on June 3 shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Prosecutors say they may revisit the issue of audio-visual coverage of the trials of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd.  Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder of Floyd, a Black man who died after being restrained by him and the other Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Kueng, Lane and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.

Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office also noted that the former officers were in a position of authority at the time and “inflicted gratuitous pain on Mr. Floyd” as witnesses, including multiple children, watched.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became motionless. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Three other officers, J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. All four were fired.

Under the state’s sentencing guidelines, a conviction on second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder both carry presumptive sentences of 12.5 years. But a judge can order a sentence ranging up to 15 years without departing from the guidelines. For second-degree manslaughter, the guidelines call for four years in prison, or a discretionary range up to 4.75 years.

But prosecutors said Friday that they will ask for an “upward departure” from the sentencing guidelines for all four men — meaning they intend to seek even higher penalties. The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, while third-degree murder carries a maximum of up to 25 years and manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The documents don’t indicate how much prison time prosecutors will request if the men are convicted.