Minnesota AG asks judge to acknowledge trauma of children who witnessed Floyd's death

Minnesota AG asks judge to acknowledge trauma of children who witnessed Floyd's death
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Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonMinnesota AG ups charges against ex-police officer in shooting of Daunte Wright Trump campaign, RNC refund donors another .8 million in 2021: NYT Attorneys general looking into online fundraising practices MORE (D) asked a Hennepin County Judge to acknowledge the trauma of the children who witnessed George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police last year. 

Ellison wrote a letter to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill on Wednesday asking him to modify his sentencing memorandum to “more accurately reflect the experiences of the four children who witnessed Mr. Floyd’s murder and subsequently testified at trial.”

Floyd was killed in May 2020 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter, and was sentenced last month to 22.5 years in prison.

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Four girls witnessed Floyd’s killing. One of them, Darnella Frazier, has gained national praise for filming the now-viral video of Floyd’s death that sparked months of protests across the country. 

Frazier was 17 at the time and was with her 9-year-old cousin that day. Alyssa Funari and Kaylynn Gilbert — both 17 at the time as well — also witnessed the incident.

In his sentencing memo dated June 25, Cahill said the fact that children were at the scene was not grounds for a harsher sentence.

He agreed with the defense that the girls were “free to leave the scene whenever they wished,” and noted that video from that day showed the girls smiling and even laughing.

But in his letter, Ellison argued that Minnesota law does not require children to be able to leave the scene of a crime. He said the state was “deeply worried” about the messaging this sends.

“The State is deeply worried about the message sent by suggesting that instead of attempting to intervene in order to stop a crime—which children did in this case—children should simply walk away and ignore their moral compasses. Children should never be put in this position,” Ellison wrote.

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As for the girl’s demeanor in the video, Ellison said the “children’s emotional testimony at trial ... belies that conclusion.”

Ellison said that modifying the sentencing memorandum will not affect Chauvin’s sentence, but will “avoid the risk of sending the message that the pain these young women have endured is not real or does not matter, or worse, that it is a product of their own decisions and not a consequence of Defendant’s.”

The girls testified on the second day of Chauvin’s trial. In an emotional testimony, Frazier addressed some of the anxieties she’s faced since Floyd’s death.

“It's been nights I stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life but it’s not what I should have done, is what he should have done,” Frazier said referring to Chauvin.