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‘That’s a Real Quick No’: Derek Chauvin Files for Appeal a Year After Conviction for George Floyd’s Murder, Claims Jurors Were Intimidated by Protesters

One year after a Hennepin County judge convicted former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering an unarmed Black man in broad daylight, the disgraced cop is asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to consider changing the initial decision.

Derek Chauvin (Cellphone Video Screenshot)

He believes several outside factors played a part in his conviction, arguing if another court reviews his appeal, he might not be required to spend over two decades in prison for the police-involved killing that launched the 2020 summer of protest.

Chauvin filed an appeal on Monday, April 25, hoping to have his verdict of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter overturned or his sentencing for those crimes related to the May 2020 death of George Floyd reduced.

In June 2021, after a 43-day trial (March 8 to April 20) Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Chauvin to 22.5 years in prison. Because of the energy around the trial, Chauvin’s legal team submitted their client did not have a chance at a fair trial.

Chauvin stood trial for killing Floyd outside of a supermarket, in front of a small crowd. Three other officers were on duty with him and did not stop him from kneeling on the man’s neck, even after he said he could not breathe, and called out for his mother. Then-17-year-old Darnella Frazier captured the ordeal on her cell phone, a piece of evidence that proved to be crucial to getting a guilty conviction.

The lawyers are petitioning the court to consider three options: dismiss Cahill’s conviction and throw his case back to Hennepin County; reverse the result and order a new trial in a different location; or reduce Chauvin’s sentencing to a lesser punishment.

His appeal petition comes neck and neck with the state-mandated report on the Minneapolis Police Department, reviewing the conduct of its rank and file in relation to the public they serve. Minnesota Public Radio News reports the study found a “pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.”

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ investigation lasted over two years and enlisted the following methodologies to assess racism and other forms of discrimination. The commission reviewed body camera video and police discipline records, and conducted interviews with community members and officers about these issues.

The research uncovered officers on the force readily used racist and misogynistic terms while policing the community, encountering suspects.

One issue revealed was that multiple MPD officers used fake social media accounts and pretended to be Black community stakeholders criticizing city officials and members of the NAACP. The data substantiated the widespread belief that MPD officers were more likely to use more severe force against Black people than whites.

When evaluating training, the report showed the department teaches new officers to approach policing “that emphasizes aggression,” lending to the creation of a “culture that results in unnecessary escalation and/or excessive force during encounters with community members of all racial backgrounds.”

The report stated, “MPD maintains an organizational culture where officers consistently use racist, misogynistic, and otherwise disrespectful language … and therefore undermines the criminal justice system.”

When talking about the bigoted culture of the Minneapolis Police Department, as an assessment based on the flagrant findings, Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said, “Race-based policing is unlawful, and it harms everyone, especially people of color and Indigenous community members, sometimes costing community members their lives.”

Despite the results of this report, suggesting Chauvin was a part of this culture, Chauvin’s attorney William Mohrman is asking the court to take a second look at the circumstances that could have negatively persuaded the jurors to administer his client’s guilty verdict.

Mohrman asserts the trial never should have been in the court building it was in because of the massive press coverage. He believed witnesses were not properly treated and the jurors were intimidated by protestors surrounding the building and the unquantified security measures. He also claimed the prosecutorial misconduct and other things impeded Chauvin from getting a fair trial.

Another claim the attorney presented to the appeal surrounds the length of his sentence. Mohrman said Judge Cahill improperly applied the sentencing guidelines to Chauvin’s case, suggesting the bench should not have included abuse of a position of authority as an aggravating factor in Floyd’s death.

Mohrman even took issue with the word count of the court’s brief on the case, citing it was 203 words shorter than required. However, the measuring stick the lawyer is using is not from last year, but from a week ago — a limit set up by Appeals Court Judge Michelle A. Larkin on Tuesday, April 19.

News of Chauvin’s appeal hit social media with many reacting with a one word response, “No.” Another user wrote, “That’s a real quick no.” Nahhhh, don’t even try it,” wrote another.

Chauvin has applied for an appeal despite pleading guilty to federal charges in December 2021. At that time, he admitted to violating the civil rights of Floyd and that of another person, a 14-year-old in 2017, where court records say the officer “held Juvenile 1 by the throat and struck Juvenile 1 multiple times in the head with a flashlight.”

The plea agreement, in this case, will require Chauvin to spend 20 to 25 years in a federal facility.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office, the officer responsible for greenlighting appeals, has 45 days to respond to Chauvin’s legal team’s brief.

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