Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison Friday for the murder of George Floyd, whose death became a watershed moment in the national debate over race and policing.
Judge Peter Cahill’s 270-month sentence was 10 years longer than suggested by state guidelines, though the defense has called for leniency.
“It’s not based on emotion or sympathy,” Cahill said during a hearing at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. “But at the same time I want to acknowledge the deep and immense pain of all the families, especially the Floyd family.”
He told Chauvin that the ruling was based on his abuse of power and “special cruelty” of George Floyd.
Chauvin, 45, was convicted in April after a Six weeks trial. The former Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during his arrest as Floyd screamed several times that he could not breathe.
Chauvin said before sentencing that he could not make a full statement due to ongoing legal matters – and would likely appeal – but offered his condolences to Floyd’s family.
During his sentencing hearing, Terence Floyd cried as he told the court how his brother’s murder affected him.
“I wanted to know from the man himself—why? What was going on in your head when your knee was on my brother’s neck?” he said. “Why did you stay there?”
“On behalf of me and my family, we are seeking the maximum penalty,” he added. “We don’t want more slaps on the wrist.”
Gianna, the 7-year-old daughter of George Floyd, spoke via video, and said that if she could talk to her father now she would say, “I miss you and I love you.”
Floyd’s killing sparked protests for racial justice across the United States and the world, after the incident was filmed and posted online. Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she filmed the murder, was later honored with a special quote by Pulitzer Prize Plaque.
The killing drew attention to the disproportionate number of police killings of black Americans and sparked a broader dialogue about racial inequality throughout American society.
police officers seldom shippedNot to mention, he was convicted of murder for committing murder in the line of duty. But a jury Chauvin the convict Second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. He was only convicted of the most serious charge.
Prosecutors had asked the judge for a 30-year prison sentence, while the defense had asked for probation.
Caroline Pawlenty, Chauvin’s mother, told her son that she continued to believe in his innocence and asked the court for leniency.
“The public will never know the loving and caring man he is, but his family does,” she said. Derek played in his head the events of that day over and over again.
“Part of the mission of the Minneapolis Police Department is to give citizens a voice and respect,” Cahill wrote in a resolution outlining his reasoning. Here, Mr. Chauvin, instead of pursuing the MPD’s mission, treated Mr. Floyd with disrespect and deprived him of the dignity he deserves for all humankind and which he would surely give to a friend or neighbour.”
Three other officers were present at the time of Floyd’s death. The former officers – Alexander Koenig, Thomas Lin and Tu Thao – are due to stand trial in March on charges of aiding and abetting the murder.
The media outnumbered the activists and observers outside the court after the ruling. But one man, Leon Lawson, had flown in from Michigan with his 4-year-old son to be there. Lawson said his uncle spent more than 50 years on a murder he committed as a young man. He said that two decades for Chauvin were not enough.
“I wanted my son to see our justice system up front and in person,” he said. “To say he was here when he judged the guy, and to be able to compare the difference because of skin color . . . I think this is a step in the right direction, so we will take what we can get.”
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the Floyd family in civil suit Against the City of Minneapolis, he said Friday that “one sentence does not solve the problem of criminal justice.”