Friday, June 25, marked the sentencing of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, as he will spend the next 22-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill listened to emotional victim impact statements from the victim’s relatives, and Chauvin himself offered “condolences to the Floyd family,” hours after denying the murderer a request for a new trial.
“I ask about him all the time,” Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter Gianna said in a video shown at the beginning of the sentencing.
When asked what she would tell her father if she could see him, Gianna said on the video, “I miss you and I love you.”
Chauvin held his knee on or near Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, as the 46-year-old was prone on the ground while detaining him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill for a purchase, as three other Minneapolis cops stood by. Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd addressed Chauvin directly, asking the judge to impose a maximum sentence of 40 years, and challenging the motivation behind George’s death.
“What were you thinking? What was in your thoughts that day, when you had your knee on my brother’s neck? When you knew that he posted no threat anymore. When he was handcuffed? Why didn’t you at least get up? Why did you stay there?
Terrence Floyd at times paused to regain his composure while delivering his impact statement.
Chauvin, who offered condolences but no remorse, said in a very brief statement, “I am not able to give a full statement at this time, but very briefly, I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. There is going to be some other information in the future that will be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind.” Prosecutors have asked the judge to sentence Chauvin to 30 years in prison.
Jurors also convicted Chauvin of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, leaving his current sentence of 22.5 years a decade less than the maximum possible sentence he faces on the latter—and most serious—count.
Chauvin’s lawyer and mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, are advocating on his behalf, asking the judge to allow for time served in jail to play into the presumptive sentence under Minnesota’s guidelines, which is 12½ years. “It’s been difficult for me to hear and read what the media, public and prosecution team believe Derek to be an aggressive, heartless and uncaring person. I can tell you that is far from the truth.”
“My son’s identity has also been reduced to that of a racist. I want this court to know that none of these things are true, and that my son is a good man,” Pawlenty added.
The three other officers (now former cops) involved in Floyd’s arrest have their respective trial rescheduled for March 2022. Tou Thao, J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane will face charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
That trial has been postponed by Judge Cahill in light of a federal criminal indictment issued in May against the three officers and Chavin for violating Floyd’s civil rights. The judge wants the federal case to be handled first, while putting some time and distance between Chauvin’s state trial and that of the three other cops.
Below, here are some early reactions from the Twittersphere about Derek Chauvin’s sentencing.