Floyd family lawyer calls for federal conviction for Chauvin

MINNEAPOLIS — A lawyer for the family of George Floyd called for a federal conviction for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, saying he hopes that would lead to a longer sentence.

Chauvin was convicted of murder in April and sentenced in state court Friday to 22 1/2 years in prison. After his sentencing, some of Floyd’s family members said that sentence wasn’t long enough and they wanted to see more.

Family attorney Ben Crump pointed to pending federal charges against Chauvin that allege he violated Floyd’s civil rights, suggesting they offer a way to get “maximum accountability” for Chauvin’s death.

“We got to take with some measure of accountability and we understand that there are still federal charges pending. So as his brothers and his family ask for the maximum, we’re still holding out for the maximum,” Crump said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said that if Chauvin is convicted federally, the federal sentence could run consecutively, giving Chauvin more time in prison, “which is why we are saying that we still want full justice.”

If Chauvin is convicted of federal counts in Floyd’s death, he would be subject to a new set of sentencing guidelines, with the ultimate sentence up to a judge. Experts said it’s possible but unlikely that a federal sentence would be longer than a state sentence. It’s also more likely that the two sentences would run at the same time, but judges have discretion.

Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, said federal judges have enormous discretion in sentencing.

“It is whatever the federal judge wants to do,” Turner said. “If he wants the sentence to be consecutive, he can.”

Turner said a prime justification in the past for indicting officers federally was to ensure that, if they are acquitted on the state level, they could still go to prison on a federal conviction. He said the fact that Chauvin was convicted and sentenced on the state charges makes it “extremely unlikely he would get consecutive time from a federal judge.”

Mark Osler, a professor at University of St. Thomas School of Law and former federal prosecutor, said any federal sentence would be concurrent.

Osler said “there’s a clear possibility he could get a life sentence in the federal system” but he also said he could get less than the 22 ½ years he received in the state system.


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