Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who recently called for further police reforms following the conviction of Derek Chauvin, said in an interview that aired Sunday that he had a confluence of emotion after the verdict, which included a sense of satisfaction and even some sympathy for the defendant.
He told Scott Pelley, a correspondent for “60 Minutes,” that it was clear that Chauvin deserved to be convicted in George Floyd’s murder, but “he’s a human being.”
“I’m not in any way wavering from my responsibility,” Ellison, who spent 16 years in his professional career as a criminal defense attorney, said. “But I hope we never forget that people who are defendants in our criminal justice system, that they’re human beings. They’re people. I mean, George Floyd was a human being. And so I’m not going to ever forget that everybody in this process is a person.”
Chauvin was convicted of all three counts in the murder of Floyd and the New York Times reported that he has since been held in solitary confinement for all but one hour each day in the prison in Oak Park Heights, Minn. A prison spokeswoman told the paper that he is in solitary confinement because there is fear for his safety.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The most serious charge — second-degree unintentional murder — could result in a 40-year sentence. The two other counts carry 25- and 10-year sentences, respectively.
The actual sentence that Chauvin receives depends on whether Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill will agree with prosecutors two months from now and impose a longer prison term than stated in Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines for first-time offenders.
Ellison told “60 Minutes” that he believes that it is “important for the court to not go light or heavy” in the sentencing.
“I don’t know if it’s right for a judge to send a message through a sentence because the sentence should be tailored to the offense, tailored to the circumstances of the case. Look, the State never wanted revenge against Derek Chauvin. We just wanted accountability,” he said.