Brussels 25.06.2021 Derek Chauvin the former Minneapolis police officer found guilty of murdering George Floyd, is sentenced to spend more than 22 years in prison.
The sentencing comes just hours after his team unsuccessfully tried to throw out the original verdict, a sign that they may launch an appeal. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill handed down the sentence following four victim impact statements from Floyd’s friends and family, including his 7-year-old daughter Gianna, his nephew Brandon Williams who said his family “is forever broken,” and Floyd’s brother Terrence.
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, spoke on his behalf saying she will always support him, believes in his “innocence,” and said, “the public will never know the loving and caring man he is but his family does.”
Chauvin spoke briefly at the hearing and stated his condolences to the Floyd family, but added: “There’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest. And I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you.”
Outside the courthouse, a crowd was gathered. Some listened to the hearing on their cell phones and responded to the testimonies accordingly.
Chauvin had been sitting in a maximum-security prison cell since a 12-member jury in April found him guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death. Forty-five people testified at Chauvin’s trial, which lasted three weeks. The jury deliberated a little more than 10 hours before returning a guilty verdict. Chauvin did not testify in his own defense, has never apologized, but has claimed he is the product of a broken system.
“Between the incident, the video, the riots, the trial – this is the pinnacle of it,” Michael Brandt, a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney who has been following the case closely, said.”The verdict was huge too, but this is where the justice comes down.”
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin could only be sentenced on the most serious charge – unintentional second-degree murder which carries a sentence of up to 40 years.
Prosecutors had pushed for a 30-year-sentence, arguing that there were five aggravating factors in Floyd’s death. Last month, Cahill said the prosecution had proven four of those factors. He ruled Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority; treated Floyd with cruelty; committed the crime with children present “who witnessed the last moments” of Floyd’s life; and had actively participated in the crime with at least three people.
Cahill said prosecutors failed to prove Floyd was vulnerable at the time.
Floyd’s death sparked national outrage and led to coast-to-coast protests.
He was killed after police officers responded to a report that he had used a counterfeit $20 bill. The 46-year-old was handcuffed facedown on the street. He yelled, cried out for his mother, and repeatedly said he could not breathe as Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck for nine minutes. Bystanders who watched the incident unfold were also heard on the video footage telling officers Floyd could not breathe.
Chauvin’s conviction was rare. He is one of 11 nonfederal law enforcement officers who have been convicted of murder for on-duty killings since 2005, Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said.
The three other Minneapolis police officers that were at the scene and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter will be tried in March. Thomas Lane, who held Floyd’s legs down, J. Alexander Kueng, who knelt on Floyd’s back, and Tou Thao, who tried to block bystanders, had previously been scheduled to go to trial in August, but the judge decided to delay their trial so that the federal case against them could go first.
A federal grand jury indicted all four former officers on charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights.
Just hours before sentencing, Cahill denied Chauvin a post-verdict motion for a new trial.
Cahill ruled that Chauvin’s legal team “failed to demonstrate … the court had abused its discretion or committed error such that defendant was deprived of his constitutional right to a fair trial.”
Cahill also ruled that Chauvin failed to prove prosecutorial or juror misconduct.