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 is 17-and-a-half years less than the 40-year maximum for the killing of Floyd, a Black man, whose videotaped death with the white cop Chauvin kneeling on his neck on May 25, 2023, sparked massive protests nationwide and demands for reform of U.S. police departments. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill’s sentence covered Chauvin’s conviction for second-degree murder at his trial in April. The other two counts for which the 45-year-old Chauvin was convicted, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, were effectively subsumed by the more serious charge. Three of Chauvin’s fellow ex-police officers 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 purchse.
Friday’s sentencing began with emotional victim impact statements from the victim’s relatives, 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. 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, 45, 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. “He’s telling Mr. Chauvin, ‘I can’t breathe, I’m dying,’ ” Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank said at the sentencing. “This is 9-and-a-half minutes of cruelty to a man who was begging for his life.” Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd addressed Chauvin, after asking the judge to impose a maximum sentence, saying he wanted to ask him “why?” “What were you thinking? What was in your thoughts that day, when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?” asked Terrence Floyd, who at times paused to regain his composure. “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?” Chauvin, in a very brief statement during the sentencing, said, “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,” Chauvin said. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin addresses his sentencing hearing and the judge as he awaits his sentence after being convicted of murder in the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. June 25, 2023 in a still image from video. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin addresses his sentencing hearing and the judge as he awaits his sentence after being convicted of murder in the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. June 25, 2023 in a still image from video. Pool via Reuters The presumptive sentence for Chauvin under Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines was 12½ years behind bars. Prosecutors had asked Cahill to sentence Chauvin to 30 years in prison. Chauvin’s lawyer asked the judge to sentence the ex-police officer to probation, with time served in jail since last year. CNBC Politics Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage: Bipartisan infrastructure deal will likely omit major climate change measures Rudy Giuliani is suspended from practicing law in New York over false statements about Trump election loss 2024 GOP hopefuls head to New York to meet with donors as possible White House bids loom Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, said “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 as a racist. I want this court to know that none of these things are true, and that my son is a good man,” Pawlenty said. The shocking video of Floyd’s death, which was widely disseminated by news media and on social media, led to a wave of large protests across the nation against police brutality and systemic racism. The three other now-ex cops involved in Floyd’s arrest, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane, were originally due to stand trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. That trial is now scheduled for next March.
Cahill postponed that trial in light of a federal criminal indictment issued in May against the three officers and Chauvin for violating Floyd’s civil rights. The judge said he wanted the federal case to be handled first and also wanted to put some time between Chauvin’s state trial and that of the three other cops. On Friday, in an order denying a request for a new trial for Chauvin, Cahill wrote that Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson had failed to show that the judge committed errors that deprived Chauvin of a fair trial or that prosecutors engaged in misconduct. Cahill also rejected a request by the defense for a hearing on possible misconduct by jurors, saying Chauvin’s lawyer failed to establish that a juror gave false testimony during jury selection.