Attorneys for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin have filed a court appeal to overturn his conviction in the 2020 killing of George Floyd on Monday. The 72-page court filing claims that the proceedings were so riddled with “error, misconduct and prejudice that they were structurally defective.”
In April 2021 after a three week-long trial and 10 hours deliberation over two days, Chauvin was found guilty in the death of Floyd on counts of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Judge Peter Cahill sentenced the 45-year-old to 22 ½ years—a sentence that carries a higher timeframe than the presumptive 12 ½ years after the judge agreed with prosecutors that there were aggravating factors in Floyd’s murder.
Now, Chauvin’s team is asking the court to do one of three things: reverse his conviction, reverse his conviction and grant him a new trial in a different venue, or return the case to a lower court for resentencing.
The initially request for a change of venue was denied by the lower court. The appeal argues that the venue change is necessary for this case.
“There are few cases involving such violent threats by the community in the event the jury finds the defendant not guilty. Those cases—which all involved defendant police officers—required transfer of venue,” CBS News reported.
The lawyers also argue pretrial publicity, jurors’ concerns for their safety, the potential for riots to break out if Chauvin was acquitted and physical threats to the courthouse prevented Chauvin from getting a fair trial.
“The overwhelming media coverage exposed the jurors—literally every day—to news demonizing Chauvin and glorifying Floyd, which was more than sufficient to presume prejudice,” the court filing said.
Last September, Chauvin formally announced his intentions to appeal. However, later in December 2021 Chauvin amended his original plea from not guilty to guilty on federal charges for violating Floyd’s civil rights. He also admitted to violating an unnamed 14-year-old’s rights in late 2017, when he “held Juvenile 1 by the throat and struck Juvenile 1 multiple times in the head with a flashlight,” according to court documents from that case.
The plea agreement in the federal case calls for Chauvin to face a prison sentence of between 20 and 25 years, to be served in federal custody.