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Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. Now, he has appealed his sentence.

At 9.25pm on Monday, May 25, George Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police.

That night, a white police officer had handcuffed the black man for allegedly trying to use a fake $20 bill, before holding him down with a knee on his neck for almost nine minutes, as Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe.

Floyd was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later.

The killing was filmed by bystander Darnella Frazier and has since been seen by hundreds of millions of people. The 46-year-old man’s death has triggered protests across America in all 50 states, as the nation responds to the injustice black citizens continue to experience at the hands of authorities.

All four policemen were quickly fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. And in June 2020, it was confirmed that all police officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been charged over his murder.

Here’s what we know about their charges.

Derek Chauvin.

George Floyd police officers
Derek Chauvin. Image: Getty.

Derek Chauvin, who had been with the Minneapolis police department for 19 years, was the man responsible for holding his knee to Floyd's neck, despite the man's desperate pleas that he "can't breathe".

Initially, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder, which in Minnesota means the suspect acted without regard for human life, but did not intend to kill. He was also charged with second-degree manslaughter.

However, in June, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. 

He was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. 

Now, the former Minneapolis police officer has appealed his conviction. 

A court filing made on Wednesday says he aims to appeal based on 14 major issues made with his case. 

Chauvin claims the court in which he was tried "abused its discretion", by denying the convicted killer a change of venue, his motion to have the jury isolated from the media throughout trial and his request for a new trial. 

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In an affidavit also filed on Thursday, he revealed he did not currently have a lawyer after the Minneapolis Police and Peace Officers association told Chauvin their "obligation" to pay for his trial attorney was "terminated upon my conviction and sentencing".

Chauvin says he is also currently without income, besides "nominal prison wages", so he cannot afford his appeal. 

Despite applying for a public defender, Chauvin says he was denied representation. 

The former police officer's wife, Kellie Chauvin, filed for divorce from her husband on May 28 - three days after he killed Floyd, and one day before he was charged with third-degree murder.

He faces charges with three other former officers who were present during Floyd's murder.

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane.

George Floyd police officers
From left to right: Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. Image: Getty.

As Chauvin firmly pressed into the neck of Floyd, two other officers applied pressure with their knees to Floyd's back.

An independent autopsy, done by two doctors hired by Floyd’s family, found that he died by "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain". Therefore, the autopsy stated that the pressure applied by the two other officers contributed to the death of Floyd.

A fourth officer watched on.

The three officers, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, have been charged with aiding and abetting murder, according to criminal complaints filed by the state of Minnesota.

Aiding and abetting second-degree murder is punishable by up to 40 years behind bars, according to Minnesota state law.

Minnesota has also opened a civil rights investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a pattern of discrimination against minorities.

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said: "Trying this case will be hard. History does show there are clear challenges here. But we will seek justice and we will find it.

"What I do not believe is one successful prosecution can rectify the hurt and loss that so many people feel. The solution to that pain will be slow and difficult work of construction justice and fairness in our society.

"That work, is the work of all of us."

Lane, Kueng and Thao are set to stand trial in March 2022. The three former officers have asked the judge to bar their trial from being live streamed. 

They claim some witnesses will not take to the stand to testify if the case is broadcasted, like Chauvin's trial was. 

If you have the means to do so, you can actively help the Black Lives Matter cause in Australia and the United States by donating to organisations working towards racial justice, such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance and the Justice for David Dungay Fund to support the family of David Dungay Junior, an Aboriginal man who died in a Sydney jail. You can also donate to the Black Lives Matter Global Network here. If you can, consider regularly donating to Indigenous-run organisations and First Nations causes.

Other active ways to help include signing petitions, attending peaceful protests, listening to BIPOC, raising their voices, educating yourself on racism and privilege and ensuring we are all taking part in the conversation to dismantle systemic racism.

This article was originally published on April 21, 2021 and was updated on September 26, 2021. 


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