The chief prosecutor in the Derek Chauvin trial says he felt bad for the police officer when the guilty verdicts were handed down in the George Floyd murder trial.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said 60 minutes host Scott Pelley’s first reaction after hearing the guilty verdict was ‘gratitude, humility’ followed by sympathy for the defendant.
“I’ll admit I felt a little bad for the defendant,” Ellison told the CBS current affairs program.
“I think he deserved to be convicted. But he is human. ‘
Ellison told 60 Minutes that his 16 years as a defense attorney led him to feel compassion for defendants.
‘I don’t hesitate in any way of my responsibility. But I hope we never forget that people who are defendants in our criminal justice system are people. They are people. I mean, George Floyd was human. And so I will never forget that everyone in this process is a person. ‘
Chauvin was found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter at the end of the three-week trial.
He faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years and a minimum of 12.5 years when convicted on June 16.
But when asked for his views on an appropriate custodial sentence, Ellison said he didn’t want Chauvin to face a harsh sentence.
‘I think it is important that the court is not easy or difficult. I don’t know if it’s correct for a judge to send a message through a sentence, because the sentence should be tailored to the offense, according to the circumstances of the case, ”Ellison told 60 Minutes.
“Look, the state has never wanted to take revenge on Derek Chauvin. We just wanted to be accountable. ‘
The Minnesota attorney general said his first reaction to the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial was that he felt “a little bad” for the former police officer.
George Floyd, left, pictured with his daughter Gianna, who is now 6 years old. Floyd died on May 25 last year after Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes
Cell phone footage of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck during the arrest that ended with Floyd’s death was crucial to securing a conviction, Keith Ellison said
Derek Chauvin, left, in his April 21 booking photo, will be sentenced on June 16. Keith Ellison, right, Minnesota attorney general, led the prosecution of Derek Chauvin. He said he does not believe Chauvin should receive severe punishment
Ellison also said that CBS’s flagship current affairs show that there is no evidence that Floyd’s death constitutes a racist hate crime.
“I wouldn’t call it that, because hate crimes are crimes with an explicit motive and bias,” he told 60 Minutes.
Hate crimes usually involve the use of racist language, Ellison said.
“We don’t have any evidence that Derek Chauvin took into account George Floyd’s race while doing what he did.”
To file a racial hatred charge, evidence would have been needed to show that Chauvin was targeting Floyd because of his race.
Ellison, a former congressman elected state attorney general in 2019, said he was unsure of a conviction until the jury passed the verdict.
“ I remember what happened in the Rodney King case when I was a beautiful young man, a young lawyer, ” he said 60 minutes.
“And I remember how devastated I felt when I heard the jury acquitted those officers.”
Whenever an officer is charged with a crime, especially if the victim is colored, it is rare to be accountable.
And so there was every moment of this case, I thought, ‘What are we missing? What have we not done? ‘
Central to the case was the video, filmed by Darnella Frazier, of Floyd’s arrest, and Ellison said they had carefully considered how much to use it.
Ellison admitted that without the footage, he wasn’t sure they could have secured a conviction.
He explained that his team was working to prosecute the case under the assumption that the video would be declared inadmissible as evidence, hoping to build as foolproof a case as possible.
Chauvin is handcuffed to court after being found guilty of all three charges related to George Floyd’s death
The guilty verdicts were greeted with joy by crowds outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Chauvin is currently in Oak Park Heights prison – Minnesota’s only maximum security facility – and will be sentenced on June 16.
Prosecutors will return to court in August, following the conviction of the other three officers involved in Floyd’s fatal arrest – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.
Ellison led the prosecution, with the help of two other Assistant Attorney Generals – Matthew Frank and Erin Eldridge.
His team was further bolstered by two lawyers hired specifically for the trial, Jerry Blackwell and Steve Schleicher.
The murder case against Chauvin took on enormous significance as the nation eagerly awaited the verdict.
The tension that had gradually increased during the three-week trial was about to boil over into widespread civil unrest.
After the guilty verdicts returned, President Joe Biden weighed in by saying they sent a message that no one is “ above the law ” for demanding new action to honor Floyd after a murder he “ stains the soul. ” of the nation ‘.
Chauvin relied on his Fifth Amendment not to testify in his own murder trial
‘No one should be above the law. And today’s verdict sends that message. But it is not enough. It can’t stop here, ”Biden said.
The Justice Department is now investigating whether they will sue Derek Chauvin for an incident in 2017 where he knelt on the neck of a black 14-year-old boy for nearly 17 minutes.
Federal prosecutors gave witnesses to testify before a grand jury about the 2017 incident two months ago.
The DOJ investigation is still ongoing and the Minneapolis Police Department was recently notified.
Chauvin has never been charged with the 2017 arrest.
The details regarding the 2017 emerged late last year when prosecutors tried to convince a judge to let them take advantage of Chauvin’s past incidents of violence.
The nation was tense leading up to the guilty verdicts, with fears that an acquittal could lead to widespread riots in Minneapolis, above and other cities.
The judge prohibited prosecutors from telling jurors about the incident in 2017.
In court documents, prosecutors said the bodycam video showed Chauvin and another prosecutor responding to a home attack on September 4, 2017, in which a mother said she had been attacked by her teenage son and daughter.
The bodycam images have not been released.
The officers arrived to find the 14-year-old boy on the floor of his bedroom while on the phone.
They ordered him to rise because he was under arrest.
When he refused, Chauvin grabbed him and hit the teen on the head with his flashlight, court documents say.
Chauvin then grabbed him by the throat before hitting him again with the flashlight.
Prosecutors had argued that all of this happened less than a minute after the officers first met the boy.
Chauvin applied a neckband to the boy, who became unconscious for a moment, then placed him in a prone position with one knee in his back for about 17 minutes until the paramedics arrived.