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US killer cop faces tougher sentence after judge finds aggravating factors in Floyd's death

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listens to the verdict in his trial, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

A US judge has ruled there were several aggravating factors in last year’s murder of George Floyd at the hands of a former police officer, who could now face up to 30 years behind bars.

Judge Peter Cahill ruled on Wednesday that former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of killing Floyd, treated the detainee with "particular cruelty.”

Chauvin, abused his authority as a police officer when he restrained Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes and not rendering medical aid, even when it became clear Floyd was in medical distress, said the judge.

The former police officer treated Floyd with "particular cruelty" because of the "prolonged nature of the asphyxiation."

In a bystander video of his death, Floyd was heard saying — at least 27 times — "I can't breathe."

The judge ruled two more aggravating factors: The crime was committed in the presence of children and with the active participation of at least three other people.

The new details could see Chauvin’s prison sentence extended.

He is likely to receive 15 years in jail, although the aggravating circumstances could prolong his jail term for more than 30 years, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines.

Regarding the aggravating factors, Chauvin's attorney argued that they were unproved and that the officer was legally authorized to use reasonable force.

Last month, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

Under Minnesota statutes, he'll be sentenced only on the most serious count – second-degree murder. 

Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said, “The application of justice in this case offers hope that we will see real change in the relationship between police and people of color by holding officers properly accountable for egregious behavior and for failing to honor the sanctity of all lives.”

Floyd’s death in May last year, sparked angry protest across the US and across the world.

The protests evolved into a seemingly nationwide battle between progressives and far-right groups, after former president Donald Trump took a hard-line stance against the anti-racism protests.

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