By: Alyssa Wilson
Judge Peter Cahill, who oversaw the trial of Derek Chauvin, is denying a request from prosecutors to change the wording in a memo that relates to the four girls who witnessed George Floyd’s death.
According to the Associated Press, Attorney General Keith Ellison is not seeking to change Chauvin’s sentence, but he is asking Cahill to rewrite the sentencing order that suggests the witnesses were not traumatized. Ellison cited research that children process trauma differently and that adults tend to downplay the impact trauma has on Black girls.
Cahill denied Ellison’s request on Tuesday, saying prosecutors mischaracterized his sentencing order. He also wrote that he never said the girls were not traumatized, but instead said evidence from the trial did not show any “objective indicia of trauma.”
“It is certainly possible that the witnesses experienced some level of emotional trauma from this incident, but the State failed to prove it,” Cahill wrote. “Be that as it may, it is the State that is injecting supposed racial presumptions in this case, not this Court.”
The youngest victim who witnesses Floyd’s murder outside of Cub Foods in Minneapolis was a nine-year-old girl. Her 17-year-old cousin was accompanying her at the time. Both are Black, but two other teenagers who witnessed the murder are white. Cahill said the sentencing order never mentioned the race of the girls. “Whether ‘adultification’ of ‘Black girls’ is, as the State insists, ‘common in American society, including in the criminal justice system,’ this Court emphatically rejects the implication that is played any part in the Court’s sentencing decision,” Cahill wrote.
Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison on June 25 and federal civil rights charges are still pending. The other officers involved in the case are set to go to trial in 2022.
If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.