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US prosecutors seek tough sentences for George Floyd police officers

Published: Updated:

Prosecutors are seeking stiffer-than-usual sentences for four former US police officers charged over the killing of George Floyd, arguing that they showed “particular cruelty” to the handcuffed African American.

The 46-year-old resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota died in May after being pinned to the pavement under the knee of white officer Derek Chauvin as Floyd gasped that he could not breathe.

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Court papers filed Friday indicate that the Minnesota attorney general’s office will argue there were a number of aggravating factors -- including that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes as bystanders, including multiple children, pleaded for his life and then watched him die.

A woman looks at a mural showing the face of George Floyd painted on a section of Israel's controversial separation barrier in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on June 10, 2020. (AFP)
A woman looks at a mural showing the face of George Floyd painted on a section of Israel's controversial separation barrier in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on June 10, 2020. (AFP)

“George Floyd, the victim, was particularly vulnerable because officers had already handcuffed him behind his back and then placed him chest down on the pavement, and Mr. Floyd clearly and repeatedly told the officers he could not breathe,” the court documents state.

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Chauvin inflicted “particular cruelty,” as well as “gratuitous pain” as he abused his position of authority, prosecutors allege.

“Despite Mr. Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe and was going to die, as well as the pleas of eyewitnesses to get off Mr. Floyd and help him, (the) defendant and his co-defendants continued to restrain Mr. Floyd,” the papers say.

Three or more suspects “actively participated” in the killing, prosecutors noted, saying this would justify longer sentences.