‘I have begged for justice’: key moments from the Derek Chauvin sentencing

George Floyd’s brothers and daughter describe the pain of loss and former officer’s mother defends him

On Friday afternoon, the world watched as Judge Peter Cahill issued his sentence in the case of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd in May last year.

The hearing included poignant moments. Four of Floyd’s family members read victim impact statements. Chauvin’s mother spoke before the court.

Lawyers for the state of Minnesota and for Chauvin made final arguments. Chauvin asked for probation and time served. The state asked for 30 years in prison. Cahill sentenced Chauvin to 22 and a half.

Here are five moments from the hearing that will be ingrained into America’s memory.

Gianna Floyd

In a recorded video message, George Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter said she wished she could tell her father: “I miss you and I love you.” Asked by an interviewer what she would do if she saw her father again, she said: “I want to play with him.”

Terrence Floyd

One of George Floyd’s brothers told the court that over the last year, he has wanted to know from Chauvin: “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck? When you knew he posed no threat any more, he was handcuffed, why you didn’t at least get up? Why you stayed there?”

Holding back tears, Terrence asked the court to sentence Chauvin to the maximum penalty.

“We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist,” he said. “We’ve been through that already.”

Referencing debate about unequal treatment of Black people by police and the US justice system, Terrence said that if the tables had been turned, and his brother had killed Chauvin, the case would have been “open and shut”. He said Chauvin should be held to the same standard.

Philonise Floyd

Another of Floyd’s brothers, Philonise, said the past year had been full of nightmares, born of watching his brother die in a cellphone video seen around the world.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Carolyn Pawlenty

Without addressing Floyd’s family, or even the death of George Floyd, Chauvin’s mother told the court her son was innocent.

“My son’s identity has also been reduced to that … [of] 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.”

Pawlenty also said her son had a “big heart” and the public would never know “the loving and caring man he is”. Pawlenty, who had not spoken publicly about the case before, also said: “I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me.”

Judge Peter Cahill

Saying he wouldn’t read his full statement, the judge said he hoped the sentence would bring “peace of mind”. Cahill said his decision was based on law and “not emotion and empathy” or on “public opinion”. He acknowledged the pain and turmoil felt by all involved.

“It has been painful throughout Hennepin county,” he said, “throughout the state of Minnesota, and throughout the country. But most importantly we need to recognize the pain of the Floyd family.”


Sarah Betancourt

The GuardianTramp

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