Derek Chauvin sentencing: Former police officer sentenced to 22-and-a-half years for murder of George Floyd

Chauvin will serve two-thirds of sentence and be eligible for supervised release in 15 years

Derek Chauvin jailed for 22.5 years for George Floyd murder

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The former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

Chauvin, 45, was found guilty by a jury in April of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee into Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as he begged for his life and repeatedly said “I can’t breathe”.

Mr Floyd, 48, was killed in May 2020 after police officers responded to a call that he had used a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in the city.

The sentence is 10 years more than the average sentence for the crime, which is 12.5 years, but significantly less than Mr Floyd’s family had asked for.

Sentencing Chauvin, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said: “My comments will be brief. What the sentence is not based on is emotion or sympathy, but at the same time I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family. I acknowledge and hear the pain you are feeling.

“I acknowledge the pain not only of those in this courtroom, but the Floyd family who are outside this courtroom and other members of the community. I am not going to attempt to be profound or clever, it is not the appropriate time. I am not basing my sentencing on public opinion, or any attempt to send any messages.”

The judge told the court that he would fully explain his sentencing decision in a 22-page written memo that he was providing.

Giving a victim impact statement before the sentence was handed down, Philonise Floyd wiped tears away as he talked about his brother.

“My family and I have been given a life sentence we will never be able to get George back. He will never be able to walk Gianna down the aisle at her wedding,” he said.

In a videotaped statement, seven-year-old Gianna Floyd said she would tell her father if she could that “I miss you and I love you”.

And she added: “I want to play with him. I want to have fun, go on a plane ride, and that’s it.”

The Floyd family and their supporters welcomed the sentence. Bridgett Floyd, Mr Floyd’s sister and founder of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, said the sentence shows that matters of police brutality are finally being taken seriously. “We have a long way to go and many changes to make before Black and brown people finally feel like they are being treated fairly and humanely by law enforcement in this country,” she said in a statement released on Friday.

The Floyd family’s attorney Ben Crump said the family had got “some measure of accountability”.

President Joe Biden said the prison sentence “seemed to be appropriate” but that he did not know all the details.

George Floyd’s daughter Gianna gives heartbreaking statement

Mr Floyd’s murder was captured by bystanders on their phones and the viral video led to months of racial justice protests across the United States.

Chauvin, who wore a grey suit and tie in the courtroom, gave his “condolences to the Floyd family” before he was jailed but said he would not be able to give a formal statement because of other impending legal issues.

“I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. There is going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope that things will give you some peace of mind, thank you,” he said.

Chauvin’s guilty verdict marks one of the rare times a white, on-duty police officer has been convicted of murdering a Black man.

His lawyers, who are likely to appeal against the sentence, had previously asked the court to give the former officer probation and time served instead of jail time, owing to potential health risks and Chauvin’s lack of previous criminal charges.

The judge ruled last month that Chauvin had been “particularly cruel” in killing Mr Floyd in front of children and had abused his authority, and the prosecution had asked for a 30-year sentence.

Under Minnesota law Chauvin will serve two-thirds of the sentence in prison, and the remaining time on supervised release. He will also get credit for time already served in prison as he awaited his sentencing.

Three other police officers involved in the incident, J Alexander Kueng, 27, Thomas Lane, 38, and Tou Thao, 35, face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

They had been due to go to trial in August but that has now been moved back to March next year. The four officers have also been charged in federal court with violating Mr Floyd’s civil rights during the fatal arrest.

Chauvin also faces a second federal indictment for allegedly violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

During that incident he is accused of placing his knee on the teenager’s neck for 17 minutes, causing him to pass out.

The Justice Department is now investigating the Minneapolis Police Department for the alleged systematic violations of the civil rights of people in the city.

Derek Chauvin breaks silence to give 'condolences' to George Floyd's family

Chauvin has been kept in solitary confinement to prevent him being attacked by other prisoners.

Relations between the police and the broader Minneapolis community are still frayed after the recent killing of Winston Smith, a Black man shot by two county deputies earlier this month.

During the sentencing hearing on Friday, Matthew Frank, Minnesota assistant attorney general, thanked members of the police department for sticking “to their oath and commitment as police officers to speak openly and honestly” about policing and their training.

“Those officers did not hide behind a blue wall,” he said.

And he added: “This case wasn’t about all police officers, it was about Derek Chauvin disregarding all that training he received, assaulting Mr Floyd until he suffocated to death.

“Mr Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority as a police officer by disregarding his training.”

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, told the court that he understood it was “tasked with a difficult job”.

“The impact this case has had on this community is profound. It has been at the forefront of our national consciousness and has weaved its way into nearly every facet of our lives, from the entertainment we consume to presidential politics … from protests to conspiracy theories,” he said.

“The death of George Floyd was tragic, he is loved by his family and his death is justifiably mourned by the people whose lives he impacted.”

He added that Chauvin was not even supposed to have been at work on the day of the killing.

“His brain is littered with what-ifs. What if things had gone differently, what if he had not gone in to work, what if he had never responded to that call, what if, what if, what if,” he said.

“This is a case that has changed the world to some degree, and I hope that it is positive.”

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