Nearly three years after the death of George Floyd, the former Minneapolis police officer found guilty of murdering the Black man has asked Minnesota’s highest court to throw out his conviction.
CBS Minnesota reports that lawyers for Derek Chauvin filed an appeal Wednesday (May 17) with the Minnesota Supreme Court, arguing that the district judge should have moved the proceedings—which drew a national audience—out of Minneapolis so that the ex-cop could have received a fair trial.
In the petition for review, Chauvin’s attorney, William Mohrman, made many of the same arguments that failed last month to persuade a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals that he received an unfair trial.
A viral arrest video taken by a bystander captured the moment on May 25, 2020 when Chauvin, who is White, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Floyd was handcuffed and face down on the ground pleading for his life, saying, “I can’t breathe.” But Chauvin ignored Floyd and onlookers, kept at bay by fellow police officers at the scene. The gruesome video ignited global protests against police brutality and racism.
On April 20, 2021, a state jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Two months later, a judge sentenced him to 22 ½ years in prison. In a separate federal case, Chauvin pleaded guilty in December 2021 to violating Floyd’s civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison.
Chauvin’s appeal to the high court didn’t sit well with Floyd’s family.
"I think that Derek really got all of the leniency possible with a 22-and-a-half-year sentence. Because, in my estimation, it should have been life without the possibility of parole," George Floyd’s uncle, Roger Floyd, told local Durham, N.C., station WTVD.
He added that Chauvin received a fair trial but understood that the ex-cop had a right to appeal his conviction.
It’s now up to Minnesota’s high court to decide whether or not to hear the case. If the justices decide to move forward, each side must submit a detailed brief before appearing in court for oral arguments. Alternatively, the justices could allow the lower court’s ruling to stand.