NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

All the people involved in the death of George Floyd have now been arrested and charged

Two days after Min­neso­ta Gov­er­nor Tim Walz asked state Attor­ney Gen­er­al Kei­th Elli­son to take over for Hen­nepin Coun­ty Attor­ney Mike Free­man as the lead pros­e­cu­tor in the George Floyd case, Min­neapo­lis Police offi­cer Derek Chau­vin has had the charge against him upgrad­ed from third-degree to sec­ond-degree murder.

The three oth­er offi­cers at the scene – J. Alexan­der Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – were each charged with aid­ing and abet­ting sec­ond degree mur­der while com­mit­ting a felony and with aid­ing and abet­ting sec­ond degree mur­der with cul­pa­ble neg­li­gence. (We strong­ly rec­om­mend view­ing the video at the top of this para­graph for Attor­ney Gen­er­al Ellison’s statement.)

As can be seen here, at the top of page fifty-nine of the Com­men­tary for the Min­neso­ta Sen­tenc­ing Guidelines:

  1. Sec­ond- and Third-Degree Mur­der. Minn. Stat. § 609.107, Manda­to­ry Penal­ty for Cer­tain Mur­der­ers, deter­mines the pre­sump­tive sen­tence for an offend­er sen­tenced under that statute.

Min­neso­ta Statute § 609.107 states:

When a per­son is con­vict­ed of vio­lat­ing sec­tion 609.19 or 609.195, the court shall sen­tence the per­son to the statu­to­ry max­i­mum sen­tence for the offense if the per­son was pre­vi­ous­ly con­vict­ed of a heinous crime as defined in sec­tion 609.106 and 15 years have not elapsed since the per­son was dis­charged from the sen­tence imposed for that con­vic­tion. The court may not stay the impo­si­tion or exe­cu­tion of the sen­tence, notwith­stand­ing sec­tion 609.135.

Min­neso­ta Statute § 609.19 spec­i­fies two types of Mur­der in the Sec­ond Degree – inten­tion­al mur­der, which includes dri­ve-by shoot­ings, and unin­ten­tion­al murder:

Subd. 2. Unin­ten­tion­al mur­ders. Who­ev­er does either of the fol­low­ing is guilty of unin­ten­tion­al mur­der in the sec­ond degree and may be sen­tenced to impris­on­ment for not more than 40 years:

(1) caus­es the death of a human being, with­out intent to effect the death of any per­son, while com­mit­ting or attempt­ing to com­mit a felony offense oth­er than crim­i­nal sex­u­al con­duct in the first or sec­ond degree with force or vio­lence or a dri­ve-by shoot­ing; or

(2) caus­es the death of a human being with­out intent to effect the death of any per­son, while inten­tion­al­ly inflict­ing or attempt­ing to inflict bod­i­ly harm upon the vic­tim, when the per­pe­tra­tor is restrained under an order for pro­tec­tion and the vic­tim is a per­son des­ig­nat­ed to receive pro­tec­tion under the order. As used in this clause, “order for pro­tec­tion” includes an order for pro­tec­tion issued under chap­ter 518B; a harass­ment restrain­ing order issued under sec­tion 609.748; a court order set­ting con­di­tions of pre­tri­al release or con­di­tions of a crim­i­nal sen­tence or juve­nile court dis­po­si­tion; a restrain­ing order issued in a mar­riage dis­so­lu­tion action; and any order issued by a court of anoth­er state or of the Unit­ed States that is sim­i­lar to any of these orders.

Min­neso­ta Statute § 609.05 spec­i­fies lia­bil­i­ty for the crimes of anoth­er – the most rel­e­vant points are these:

Sub­di­vi­sion 1. Aid­ing, abet­ting; liability.

A per­son is crim­i­nal­ly liable for a crime com­mit­ted by anoth­er if the per­son inten­tion­al­ly aids, advis­es, hires, coun­sels, or con­spires with or oth­er­wise pro­cures the oth­er to com­mit the crime.

Subd. 2. Expan­sive liability.

A per­son liable under sub­di­vi­sion 1 is also liable for any oth­er crime com­mit­ted in pur­suance of the intend­ed crime if rea­son­ably fore­see­able by the per­son as a prob­a­ble con­se­quence of com­mit­ting or attempt­ing to com­mit the crime intended.

Subd. 4. Cir­cum­stances of conviction.

A per­son liable under this sec­tion may be charged with and con­vict­ed of the crime although the per­son who direct­ly com­mit­ted it has not been con­vict­ed, or has been con­vict­ed of some oth­er degree of the crime or of some oth­er crime based on the same act, or if the per­son is a juve­nile who has not been found delin­quent for the act.

Min­neso­ta Statute § 609.205 defines manslaugh­ter in the sec­ond degree – the most rel­e­vant points are these:

A per­son who caus­es the death of anoth­er by any of the fol­low­ing means is guilty of manslaugh­ter in the sec­ond degree and may be sen­tenced to impris­on­ment for not more than ten years or to pay­ment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:

(1) by the per­son­’s cul­pa­ble neg­li­gence where­by the per­son cre­ates an unrea­son­able risk, and con­scious­ly takes chances of caus­ing death or great bod­i­ly harm to another;

Min­neso­ta uses a series of sen­tenc­ing guide­lines grids, depend­ing on the type of crime involved. For its Stan­dard Grid, its axes are the Crim­i­nal His­to­ry Score and the Sever­i­ty Lev­el of Con­vic­tion Offense.

If none of the Min­neapo­lis Police offi­cers involved were shown to have any rel­e­vant cir­cum­stances that would increase their like­ly Crim­i­nal His­to­ry Score of zero, if found guilty, Offi­cer Chau­vin would like­ly serve between just under eleven and fif­teen years in prison for Unin­ten­tion­al Mur­der in the Sec­ond Degree.

Offi­cers Kueng, Lane and Thao are unlike­ly to serve longer prison terms than Offi­cer Chau­vin if con­vict­ed, but in the­o­ry could serve up to ten years on the charge of aid­ing and abet­ting in the death of George Floyd.

A Fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion is also in progress, led by US Attor­ney Eri­ca Mac­don­ald, with an empha­sis on “all alle­ga­tions involv­ing the depri­va­tion of civ­il rights, includ­ing ‘col­or of law’ vio­la­tions – offi­cial actions tak­en by per­sons act­ing under the author­i­ty of local, state, fed­er­al, or trib­al laws to will­ful­ly deprive some­one of a right or priv­i­lege secured or pro­tect­ed by the Con­sti­tu­tion or laws of the Unit­ed States.”

The Min­neso­ta Depart­ment of Human Rights has also launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into the Min­neapo­lis Police Depart­ment after fil­ing a civ­il rights charge relat­ed to the mur­der of George Floyd. Floyd is due to be laid to rest lat­er this week.

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