Minneapolis, MN – Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin filed an appeal on Monday and asked the court to overturn his conviction for the murder of George Floyd on the grounds the proceedings were tainted by publicity and protests.
Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s murder on April 20, 2021 and sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison for the crime.
The enhanced sentence exceeded Minnesota’s sentencing guides that dictated Chauvin should serve 10 years and eight months to 15 years behind bars.
The 82-page filing on April 25 listed more than a dozen aspects of the case and trial that Chauvin’s defense attorney said tainted the court proceedings and rendered them “structurally defective,” CNN reported.
William Mohrman, attorney for Chauvin, cited the extensive pretrial publicity and protests leading up to the trial as highly problematic.
Even President Joe Biden weighed in before there was a verdict.
“I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is, I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury is sequestered,” President Biden told reporters when the jury was deliberating.
Mohrman also pointed to the city’s announcement of having made a $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family in the midst of jury selection as having been prejudicial, CNN reported.
It was the largest pre-trial wrongful death settlement in history.
U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) levied threats of what would happen without a guilty verdict.
“But I’m very hopeful,” Waters told the assembled crowd of protesters. “And I hope that we’re going to get a verdict that will say guilty guilty guilty. And if we don’t, we cannot go away.”
She told reporters that a manslaughter verdict from the jury wouldn’t be sufficient.
“Oh no, not manslaughter,” Waters insisted. “This is guilty for murder. I don’t know whether it’s in the first degree but as far as I’m concerned, it’s first-degree murder.”
And black-clad vandals attacked the former home of one of the defense’s expert witnesses with pig’s blood before the trial had even finished.
Chauvin and his attorney have asked the appeals court to review the judge’s decisions not to change the venue, fully sequester the jury, or delay the trial because of protests, CNN reported.
The appeal also accused prosecutors of misconduct.
Court documents showed that Mohrman has alleged that state’s attorneys failed to properly disclose discovery information and adequately prepare the prosecution’s witnesses, according to CNN.
In his appeal, Chauvin argued his conviction should be overturned or he should be granted a new trial in a different venue.
The filing said his court proceedings were “so pervaded by error, misconduct and prejudice that they were structurally defective,” CNN reported.
Mohrman argued Chauvin was denied his constitutional right to due process and a fair trial.
However, should the appeals court decide to uphold Chauvin’s conviction, his attorneys have asked the judges to reduce his sentence to be within the state’s recommended sentencing guidelines, according to CNN.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill wrote when he sentenced Chauvin that the former police officer deserved a longer sentence because he had “abused his position of trust and authority” and treated Floyd “without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings,” WCCO reported.
“It was particularly cruel to kill George Floyd slowly by preventing his ability to breathe when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear he was having trouble breathing,” Cahill’s ruling read.
Further aggravating factors included the fact that children were present during the incident and that Chauvin committed the crime as a group with at least three other people assisting him, WCCO reported.
Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 after officers responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that he had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.