Derek Chauvin was handcuffed and taken away to the cells on Tuesday after Judge Peter Cahill revoked his bail, ahead of sentencing for the murder of George Floyd.
The 45-year-old former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of all counts at the end of a three-week trial, with the jury taking just ten hours to reach their unanimous verdict.
After the verdict was read out at 4pm local time, Chauvin, showing no emotion, was taken straight to the cells in Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial was held, for processing.
Later on Tuesday he was transferred to Oak Park Heights, 25 miles east of Minneapolis, on the border with Wisconsin.
Derek Chauvin was handcuffed and led away on Tuesday to be held in jail before sentencing
Chauvin showed no emotion as the three guilty verdicts were read out by Judge Peter Cahill
George Floyd, 46, was arrested for using a fake $20 bill and died when Chauvin tackled him
Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes on May 25 outside Cup Foods
Oak Park Heights is the state’s only Level 5 maximum security prison.
It has space for up to 473 inmates, and is regarded as one of the safest for high-risk offenders.
Only one person has been murdered within the facility since it opened its doors in 1982, and no one has ever escaped.
Chauvin is currently being held at Oak Park Heights prison, 25 miles east of Minneapolis
No one has ever escaped from Oak Park Heights – Minnesota’s only maximum security prison
Oak Park Heights maximum security prison has a capacity for 473 male inmates within its walls
The medical cell inside Oak Park Heights – designed so inmates never have to leave
Cells inside Oak Park Heights, which experts believe may be where Chauvin serves his sentence
A guard is seen on duty on the roof of Oak Park Heights prison, currently home to Chauvin
MINNESOTA V DEREK CHAUVIN – CHARGES
Second-degree murder – GUILTY
The second-degree murder charge required prosecutors to prove Chauvin caused Floyd’s death while committing or trying to commit a felony — in this case, third-degree assault.
Prosecutors had to convince the jury that Chauvin assaulted or attempted to assault Floyd and in doing so inflicted substantial bodily harm. Prosecutors did not have to prove Chauvin was the sole cause of Floyd’s death – only that his conduct was a ‘substantial causal factor’.
Second degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, but because Chauvin does not have any prior convictions sentencing guidelines recommend he serve no more than 25.5 years in jail.
Second-degree manslaughter – GUILTY
The manslaughter charge has a lower bar, requiring proof that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death through negligence that created an unreasonable risk, and consciously took the chance of causing severe injury or death.
Second degree manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison – sentencing guidelines for someone without a criminal record call for no more than four years behind bars.
Third-degree murder – GUILTY
Third-degree murder required a lower standard of proof than second-degree. To win a conviction, prosecutors needed to show only that Floyd’s death was caused by an act that was obviously dangerous, though not necessarily a felony.
Third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 25 years but because Chauvin has no criminal history he would likely end up serving about 12.5.
Chauvin will be closely watched to ensure his safety.
He will certainly be considered a suicide risk, and will be closely monitored.
Well-being checks are one of the most important safeguards a jail can take to prevent inmate harm, said Bill Hutton, Executive Director of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association – speaking to KARE 11 in February, after the 10th inmate since 2015 took his own life inside Hennepin jail.
By law, well-being checks on each inmate at a jail need to be made once every 30 minutes.
For those inmates who are physically or mentally sick, or considered a suicide risk, checks should be done far more frequently. Lights may well be kept on in their cells.
He will also, as a former police officer, be at risk from other inmates.
Jim Bruton, former warden of the prison, wrote in his 2004 book about Oak Park Heights that there was a hierarchy among inmates, which came from the crime committed.
At the top of the scale are those who have killed a law enforcement officer, Bruton said, in an interview at the time.
At the bottom were sex offenders, with child molesters considered the lowest of the low.
The hierarchy means that Chauvin will likely need extra protection.
While being held before the trial, the managers of the jail ensured that he would not be protected by black guards, according to a lawsuit filed in February.
Eight minority correctional officers at Ramsey County jail filed a racial discrimination case, alleging only white employees were allowed to guard or interact with Chauvin.
The lawsuit, filed in Minnesota district court, alleges a top official at the center ordered employees of color to segregate on a separate floor away from Chauvin when he turned himself in on murder charges.
It also claims the former officer received special treatment at the facility, including from a jail official who is related to his sister, and was allowed to use her phone – a violation of jail policy.
It remains unclear where Chauvin will ultimately serve his sentence – and officials may keep the location under wraps due to safety concerns.
Because he was convicted at the state level he will be incarcerated in Minnesota, at one of nine state prisons:
- MCF – Faribault
- MCF – Lino Lakes
- MCF – Oak Park Heights
- MCF – Red Wing
- MCF – Rush City
- MCF – St. Cloud
- MCF – Stillwater
- MCF – Togo
- MCF – Moose Lake
His current prison, Oak Park Heights, would be a likely pick for Chauvin.
Chauvin’s attorneys will have to notify the trial court within 60 days if they plan to appeal.
His lawyers then have months to review transcripts and court filings dating from the start of the case to build their arguments.
They are likely to try and overturn the verdict based on the location – which they argue was too tense to ensure a fair trial – and on the media coverage, plus the $27 million settlement awarded to the family before the trial began. Chauvin’s defense tried to argue that it prejudiced the jury, saying it implied guilt.
Three other officers involved in the arrest – Tou Thao, Thomas K. Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng – face trial in August.
They are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence.
What’s next? Case heads to pre-sentencing investigation
Chauvin’s sentence will rely heavily on a pre-sentencing investigation during which his character and habits – things not touched on in trial – will be taken into consideration.
Ahead of the trial the prosecution lobbied to have eight of Chauvin’s prior arrests in which they argue he used excessive force admitted in court.
Judge Cahill deemed all but two inadmissible on the grounds that the incidents were not similar enough and that the prosecution were improperly trying to show Chauvin’s propensity to resort to unreasonable force.
At the time he made his decision Cahill said that the state was simply trying ‘to depict Chauvin as a ‘thumper”.
Ultimately the prosecution decided not to make the arrests part of their case-in-chief but they may be used in any bid to see Chauvin handed down a higher sentence then allowed by sentencing guidelines if convicted.
A second ground on which the prosecution could also ask for this applies to ‘crimes committed in front of children’. The state called nine-year-old Judeah as a witness possibly with this in mind.
According to the Minnesota sentencing guidelines, the presumptive sentence for a person such as Chauvin with no criminal history is the same for murder in the third and unintentional murder in the second; 12 and a half years. But the judge has discretion to sentence anywhere between ten years and eight months to 15 years.
If the judge rules that aggravating factors are present and departs from the guidelines, the maximum sentence would be 40 years for second-degree murder, 25 years for third-degree murder and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.