Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd by applying deadly pressure to the unarmed and handcuffed Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes, was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill delivered the sentence on Friday afternoon after members of Floyd’s family and prosecutors appealed for the convicted murderer to get considerably more prison time than state guidelines advise.
Deciding against adjudicating the two lesser charges that Chauvin was facing, Cahill said the one count of unintentional second-degree murder for which he was sentencing included 10 additional years for aggravating factors, including employing “particular cruelty.”
Arguing that Chauvin’s crime is “more serious than the typical second-degree unintentional murder,” prosecutors asked for Cahill to sentence the former police officer to 360 months, which equals 30 years.
Chauvin’s lawyer argued that in an effort to eliminate sentencing disparity, the state’s guideline sentence “is what’s appropriate in this case.”
Chauvin, who did not testify at his trial, finally broke his silence on Friday and briefly addressed the court with a statement that offered his “condolences” to the Floyd family before he added cryptically, “There’s gonna be some other information in the future that will be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind.”
Prior to his sentencing, victim impact statements were delivered before the court, including comments from Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter, Gianna, and his nephew along with two of his brothers, the latter of whom asked Cahill to throw the book at Chauvin. On the flip side, Chauvin’s mother made an unexpected appearance in court and pleaded with the court to impose the opposite sentencing of what Floyd’s family asked.
Gianna said she frequently asks about her father “all the time” and frequently wonders, “How did my dad get hurt?” When asked if she could say anything to her father, Gianna said she would say, “I miss you and I love you.”
Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams addressed Chauvin’s “malicious display of hate and abuse of power” as well as “a total lack of consideration for human life.”
Williams added: “The sudden murder of George has forever traumatized us.”
Looking direct at Chauvin, Williams said, “our family is forever broken,” and appealed to Cahill to impose the maximum penalty” when sentencing the former cop.
Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, asked Chauvin directly, “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?”
Chauvin, face covered with a mask, appeared to look back and showed no emotion.
Pointing out that George Floyd was handcuffed, Terrence Floyd asked Chauvin, “why you didn’t at least get up? Why you stayed there?”
He shared a touching story about the last time he spoke with George Floyd, about a month before he was murdered, and said the two of them discussed setting up a playdate for their young daughters.
Now, Terrence Floyd said, ”that can’t happen.”
He asked for the maximum penalty when Cahill sentenced Chauvin.
“We don’t wanna see no more slaps on the wrist,” he said before accurately adding, “because if the roles were reversed, there wouldn’t be no case. We’d have been under the jail for murdering somebody. So we ask for that same penalty for Derek Chauvin.”
George Floyd’s other brother, Philonise, was the final person to deliver a victim impact statement, wiping away tears as he addressed the court.
“George’s life mattered,” Philonise Floyd said.
He said sentencing Chauvin to “the maximum sentence possible” would provide the closure that he and his family — especially Gianna — need.
“My family and I have been given a life sentence,” Philonise said.
Therefore, he added, it’s imperative that the court sentence Chauvin to a sentence that will allow him to do “his time consecutively without the possibility of parole of getting out early for good behavior.”
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, denied that her son was “a racist” and called him “a good man” who always puts others before himself.
“I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well,” Pawlenty said. “When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me.”
She told Cahill with a bit of irony that she would not be able to see or talk to her son as often, something that Floyd’s family has repeatedly said about their own loss.
Chauvin came to his sentencing hearing facing up to 40 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter and/or a $20,000 fine.
The recommended prison sentence for first-time murder convicts who have no other prior convictions is about 10 to 15 years, according to Minnesota state guidelines.
However, a ruling last month that there were aggravating factors at play when Floyd was murdered cleared the way for Cahill to sentence Chauvin to more prison time than those recommended 10-15 years.
In contrast, the only other police officer in Minnesota to be convicted of murder (a Somali-American Black man) was sentenced to 12 and a half years in 2019 in a case that with completely different circumstances from Chauvin’s.
Ahead of the sentencing hearing, Chauvin’s legal team had asked the court to sentence the convicted murderer to probation and release him on the basis of the time that he’s already served, which has only been slightly more than two months since his guilty verdict was delivered on April 20.
Experts predicted weeks in advance that Cahill’s decision would lie somewhere in the middle.
Chauvin came to his sentencing hearing hours after Cahill denied his legal team’s request for a retrial.
The aggravating factors that gave Cahill the green light to sentence Chauvin to more prison time stem from the fact that he employed “cruelty” when kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Those factors werealso because Chauvin killed Floyd in front of children, four of whom testified at Chauvin’s murder trial, including Darnella Frazier, who filmed the video that served as the primary piece of evidence in the case.
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