Ellison asks judge to change sentencing memo for Derek Chauvin regarding child witnesses

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is asking Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill to change his sentencing memo for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for George Floyd’s murder, in regards to children at the scene. 

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 2020 death. For his sentencing, the state asked the judge to consider several aggravating factors in the case, including that the crime happened in front of children. Four young girls witnessed Floyd’s murder and testified at Chauvin’s trial about what they saw. 

Cahill based his sentence on two aggravating factors he found in the case: that Chauvin abused his position of authority as a police officer and that Floyd was treated with particular cruelty. In his 22-page sentencing memo, he detailed why he did not find the presence of children to be an aggravating factor in the case. 

In a letter filed with the court Wednesday, Ellison asked Cahill to remove references to the children’s failure to leave the scene because the law does not require children to be unable to walk away.

He also wants Cahill to remove language suggesting the children suffered any trauma as well as his reference to the demeanor the children exhibited in the video of Floyd’s murder. 

Ellison said making the changes will avoid the risk of sending the message that "the pain these young women endured is not real or does not matter." He said making the changes would not affect Chauvin’s 22.5-year sentence.