A judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Friday to 22-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.
That sentence was less than the 40-year maximum for the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose videotaped death with the white cop Chauvin kneeling on or near his neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, sparked massive protests nationwide and demands for reform of U.S. police departments.
But it was a decade more than the presumptive sentence for second-degree murder, the most serious of the three counts for which Chauvin, 45, was convicted at trial in April.
Jurors also convicted him of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors wanted Chauvin to serve 30 years in prison, while the former cop’s lawyer asked for just probation.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill gave the 18-year- police veteran Chauvin the stiffer punishment than recommended by sentencing guidelines after finding four aggravating factors in his crimes.
Those were Chauvin having abused a position of trust and authority as a cop, having treated Floyd with “particular cruelty,” committing the crime with a group of at least three other people — his fellow police officers — and the fact that children were present during the commission of the offense.
“The sentence is not based on is emotion or sympathy,” said Cahill, who later added that he did not based the sentence on public opinion, or “to send any messages.”
“But at the same time I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family, the judge said. You have our sympathies.”
Cahill said the case also “has been painful throughout Hennepin County, throughout the state of Minnesota, and even the country.”
President Joe Biden, when told about the length of Chauvin’s sentence, said, “Well I don’t know all of the circumstances that are considered, but it seems to me, under the guidelines that seem to be appropriate.”
Three of Chauvin’s fellow ex-police officers, who stood by as Chauvin killed Floyd, are awaiting trial on related Minnesota state charges next March.
All four men also face pending federal criminal charges for having violated Floyd’s civil rights in the arrest, which began after Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill in a purchase.
Friday’s sentencing came after emotional victim impact statements from the victim’s relatives, a plea for mercy from Chauvin’s mother and Chauvin himself offering “my condolences to the Floyd family.”
“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. “I was asking how did my dad get hurt.”
Asked what she would tell her father if she could see him, Gianna said on the video, “I miss you and I love you.”