Police officer convicted of George Floyd murder appeals ruling

Advocates have said police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction should represent a sea change in police accountability.

George Floyd mural
Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in a rare conviction of a police officer [File: Julio Cortez/AP Photo]

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has filed an intent to appeal with the Minnesota state appellate court in his murder conviction for the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man whose death in May 2020 sparked protests across the United States.

A jury found Chauvin, who is white, guilty in April of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd in a verdict hailed as a landmark rebuke of the disproportionate use of police force against Black Americans.

The video of Chauvin kneeling on the neck of the handcuffed Floyd for more than eight minutes during the arrest caused outrage. Chauvin was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison in June.

In documents filed on Thursday, Chauvin raised 14 issues about his prosecution, including the court’s denial of a request for a change of venue, that he believed supported his request for an appeal.

Chauvin said in his opinion the judge abused his discretion when he denied requests to sequester the jury throughout the trial, denied him a new trial due to what he described as juror misconduct and did not allow him to strike what he said was clearly biased jurors from serving on the jury.

Chauvin also listed alleged issues with the trial itself, including the addition of the third-degree murder charge and the court’s failure to make an official record of numerous sidebars throughout the trial.

Separately, Chauvin filed a motion to put the appeals process on hold until Minnesota’s Supreme Court reviews an earlier decision to deny him a public defender to represent him in his appeal.

In an affidavit, Chauvin said he has no lawyer in the appeals process.

He said he has no income besides nominal prison wages, adding that his case was paid for by the Minneapolis Peace and Police Officers Association but it stopped paying for his legal representation after his conviction and sentencing.

Three police officers are to face state charges next year for their roles in Floyd’s death. All four also face federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Call for police accountability

While high-profile police killings of unarmed Black people have sparked outrage in the US for decades, charges against law enforcement and subsequent convictions are exceedingly rare.

Advocates who have pushed for federal-level police reform have said Chauvin’s conviction should begin a sea change in police accountability.

Also on Thursday, the Rochester Police Department in New York announced an officer had been served with “departmental changes” in the March 2020 asphyxiation death of Daniel Prude, an unarmed Black man.

Prude’s family had obtained body-worn camera footage of Prude’s death that showed him naked in a dark, snowy street.

A mesh “spit hood” was placed over his head after he told officers he had contracted the novel coronavirus. The video also showed Prude being restrained on the ground by police.

“The Rochester Police Department’s Conflict Counsel has determined potential grounds for legal recourse in the case of Officer [Mark] Vaughn,” the department said in a statement.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies