Death of George Floyd: the prosecution will demand very heavy sentences for the police officers

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MINNEAPOLIS | US prosecutors expect to ask for exceptionally long sentences for police officers accused of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, because of the “particular cruelty” of their act and the “vulnerable” status of the victim at the time of the facts.

• Read also: “Enough”: in Washington, anti-racist demonstrators demand equality

Citing many aggravating circumstances, the prosecution will seek sentences “higher” than legal recommendations for the four agents involved in the murder of George Floyd, according to court documents sent to court on Friday, while the trial is scheduled for March 2021.

The police “abused their position of authority” and the ex-agent Derek Chauvin showed “a particular cruelty”, inflicting “violence for free”, in front of many witnesses including children, underlined the Attorney Keith Ellison.

Mr. Chauvin, a 44-year-old former white police officer, is charged with murder for suffocating Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American, by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis.

His three former colleagues Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are being prosecuted for complicity in murder.

“George Floyd, the victim, was particularly vulnerable, because the police had already handcuffed his hands behind his back and had placed him facing the ground,” prosecutors said.

The lawyers also recalled that “Mr. Floyd had clearly and repeatedly told officers he could not breathe.”

The filmed ordeal of George Floyd, whose images have toured the world, sparked a protest movement on a scale unprecedented for decades in the United States.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators notably paid tribute to him on Friday in Washington during a vast march against racism and police violence, 57 years after Martin Luther King’s emblematic speech, “I have a dream”.

Prosecutors did not specify the length of sentences they intended to seek, but the maximum sentence for murder is 40 years in the state of Minnesota.

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