Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted earlier this year for the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, has appealed the guilty ruling that’s set to send him to prison for at least 22 years.
Chauvin’s eleventh-hour court filing on Thursday comes exactly 90 days after his June 25 sentencing, the final day he was allowed to do so. According to court documents, he’s appealing the conviction on at least 14 different grounds, including perceived unfair actions by Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the three-week-long trial last spring.
“The District Court abused its discretion when it denied the Appellants motion for change of venue,” the filing states.
The appeal filing argues that the court abused its discretion when it denied Chauvin’s motion for a new trial, his request for sequestration to begin immediately during the jury selection process, and when it denied the defense’s ability to introduce certain pieces of evidence such as any testimonies or records related to Morries Hall, a friend of George Floyd. The appeal also says the court should have allowed more evidence related to Floyd’s May 2019 arrest, approved of more defensive strikes than it did during the jury selection process, and shouldn’t have allowed the State to amend its complaint and add the charge of third-degree murder.
On April 20, 2021, Chauvin was found guilty on charges of second- and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The ruling marked a rare conviction for a U.S. police officer, just under a year after Chauvin’s killing of Floyd sparked international protests against racist policing policies.
On Thursday, Chauvin also filed to have the denial of his request for a public defender be overturned, as the disgraced cop claims that he’s completely broke and can’t pay for an attorney. He was granted “pauper status,” exempting him from having to pay all court fees related to the case. Prior to his conviction, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association had been paying his legal fees, according to the Star Tribune, but it will not cover fees associated with any appeals.
Chauvin’s wave of appeals comes just a week after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor should no longer stand. The state’s highest court ruled that because Noor didn’t intend to harm anyone else when he shot and killed 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017, he can’t be charged with unintentionally putting others in danger.
Because the decision to convict Chauvin on third-degree charges stemmed solely from Noor’s case as precedent, experts told VICE News that Chauvin will likely have grounds to appeal the third-degree charges, though it won't affect his sentence.
“Chauvin will likely have his decision reversed because it’s legally incompatible to say that someone is guilty of intentionally doing something and at the same time they’re guilty of unintentionally doing something,” Andrew Wilson, a partner at defense firm Wilson & Clas in Minneapolis, said last week.
Even if his appeals are successful, Chauvin faces no shortage of additional legal troubles ahead. He still faces federal civil charges alongside the three other former Minnesota police officers implicated in George Floyd’s death, to which they all pleaded not guilty to last week.
Chauvin also faces two federal civil counts of deprivation of rights under color of law in connection to a 2017 encounter with a 14-year-old Black boy, in which the former cop struck the teen with a flashlight, applied a neck restraint until he passed out, and used his knee to pin him to the ground for 17 minutes as the teen’s mother looked on. He pleaded not guilty to these charges last Thursday.