Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for murder of George Floyd

Four members of the Floyd family, including his seven-year-old daughter Gianna, gave statements before the sentencing

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd, has been sentenced to 22 years and six months for second-degree murder, closing one chapter of a case that thrust the issue of race and American policing back into the global spotlight.

The 45-year-old appeared in court on Friday, dressed in a grey suit and with a shaved head, two months after a jury found him guilty on three charges related to Floyd’s death.

The sentence, issued by the Hennepin county judge Peter Cahill, was a 10-year increase to the state’s recommended sentencing guidance for second-degree murder. Prosecutors successfully argued that Chauvin should face harsher sentencing due to a range of aggravating factors.

Cahill offered only brief remarks before delivering the sentence, saying his decision was “not based on emotion or sympathy” but adding: “I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family.”

Cahill explained his reasoning for the harsher sentence in a 22-page sentencing memorandum released by the court, writing: “Part of the mission of the Minneapolis police department is to give citizens ‘voice and respect’. Here, Mr Chauvin rather than pursuing the MPD mission, treated Mr Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor.”

The announcement followed victim impact statements from members of the Floyd family including his seven-year-old daughter Gianna. In a recorded video message, she was asked what she would say to her father today.

“It would be I miss you and I love him,” she said.

Prosecutors sought a maximum sentence of 30 years, a plea reiterated by members of the Floyd family as they delivered statements in person.

“Every day I have begged for justice to be served, reliving the execution of George, while others begged, they pleaded for officer Chauvin to simply just allow George to take a breath,” Floyd’s brother Philonise told the court. “I haven’t had a real night’s sleep because of the nightmares I constantly have hearing my brother beg and plead for his life over and over again.”

Terrence Floyd, another of George Floyd’s brothers, directly addressed the former officer, who sat before him showing little visible emotion.

“I wanted to know from the man himself, why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck. When you knew that he posed no threat any more, he was handcuffed, why you didn’t at least get up, why you stayed there?”

Philonise Floyd addresses the media after the Derek Chauvin sentencing.
Philonise Floyd addresses the media after the Derek Chauvin sentencing. Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general whose office brought the case to trial, described the sentence as “one of the longest a former police officer has ever received for an unlawful use of deadly force”. He called it “another moment of real accountability on the road to justice”.

“My hope for Derek Chauvin is that he uses his long sentence to reflect on his choices and his life,” Ellison said. “My hope is that he will be able to find it within himself to acknowledge the impact of his choices on George Floyd, his family, his fellow police officers, and the world.”

The famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the Floyd family and other victims of police violence, described the punishment as a “historic sentence [that] brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability”.

Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd said in a statement: “The sentence handed down today to the Minneapolis police officer who killed my brother George Floyd shows that matters of police brutality are finally being taken seriously. However, 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.”

Under Minnesota “good behaviour” law, Chauvin could serve only two-thirds of the sentence in prison with the rest under licensed release. Earlier on Friday, judge Cahill rejected a motion by defence attorneys for a new trial.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, requested the court issue a probatory sentence only.

Chauvin spoke briefly to the court, suggesting that “additional legal matters” prevented him from speaking at length.

“Very briefly though, I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family, there’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest, and I hope some things would give you some peace of mind,” he said.

Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, asked for the court to show restraint and said, despite the unanimous guilty verdicts on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter, that her son was innocent. She did not address the Floyd family.

“My son’s identity has also been reduced to that … as a racist,” she said. “I want this court to know that none of these things are true and that my son is a good man.”

She added: “The public will never know the loving and caring man he is, but his family does. Even though I have not spoken publicly, I have always supported him 100% and always will.”

Floyd’s death, on 25 May 2020, ignited racial justice protests around the US and the world. Chauvin’s trial was seen as a litmus test for police accountability.

Contributor

Oliver Laughland

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Prosecutors accuse Derek Chauvin of killing George Floyd as trial starts
Jerry Blackwell told jury that ex-officer used excessive and unreasonable force ‘without regard for Floyd’s life’

Chris McGreal and Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis

29, Mar, 2021 @11:05 PM

Article image
Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder of George Floyd
Jury finds ex-Minneapolis police officer, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, guilty on all counts

Chris McGreal, Lois Beckett, Oliver Laughland and Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis

21, Apr, 2021 @7:42 AM

Article image
'The world is waiting': Derek Chauvin set to go on trial for killing of George Floyd
Opening arguments begin in Minneapolis on Monday as ex-officer denies charges of murder and manslaughter

Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis and Chris McGreal

29, Mar, 2021 @6:30 AM

Article image
George Floyd killing: defense rests case after Derek Chauvin declines to testify
Both sides will make closing arguments on Monday and the case over the death of George Floyd will then go to the jury

Chris McGreal

15, Apr, 2021 @5:24 PM

Article image
Derek Chauvin trial: defence opens its case with ex-police officer
Defence attempts to show George Floyd had history of failing to cooperate but he comes across as frightened in video

Chris McGreal

13, Apr, 2021 @5:50 PM

Article image
George Floyd killing: judge sets $1.25m bail for ex-officer Derek Chauvin
Court hearing comes as Floyd’s family prepares to bury him in Houston, where he spent most of his life

Joan E Greve in Washington and agencies

09, Jun, 2020 @10:17 AM

Article image
'Everything is riding on the outcome': Minneapolis braces for Chauvin trial
Prosecutors due to set out their case in heavily fortified building for trial of ex-officer charged with murdering George Floyd

Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis, Richard Luscombe and agencies

28, Mar, 2021 @7:25 PM

Article image
Derek Chauvin trial: defense claims bad heart and drug use killed George Floyd
Dr David Fowler, testifying for the defense, also said vehicle exhaust may have played a part in Floyd’s death

Chris McGreal

14, Apr, 2021 @9:20 PM

Article image
Derek Chauvin trial: medical examiner stops short of backing fellow experts’ testimony
Dr Andrew Baker does not support evidence of other specialists who said Floyd was suffocated under Chauvin’s knee

Chris McGreal

09, Apr, 2021 @9:55 PM

Article image
Minnesota charges three more officers over George Floyd killing and elevates Chauvin murder charge
Attorney general increases Chauvin’s charge to second-degree murder and charges officers J Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane for aiding and abetting murder

Martin Pengelly in New York

03, Jun, 2020 @8:59 PM