Derek Chauvin sentenced over George Floyd murder

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  • George Floyd
    African American man who was a victim of police violence in the United States, killed by Derek Chauvin
  • Derek Chauvin
    American former police officer who murdered George Floyd

A Minnesota judge has sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22-1/2 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd during an arrest in May 2020 on a Minneapolis footpath, video of which sparked global protests.

A jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty on April 20 of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after a trial that was widely seen as a landmark in the history of US policing.

Before the sentence was handed down on Friday, Mr Floyd's brothers told the court of their anguish, Chauvin's mother insisted on her son's innocence, and Chauvin himself briefly offered condolences to the Floyd family.

In this image taken from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over Chauvin's sentencing.
Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court during sentencing on Friday. Source: AAP

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said it was important to recognise the pain of the Floyd family and acknowledged the global notoriety of the case, only to say it would not sway him.

"I'm not basing my sentence on public opinion. I'm not basing it on the attempt to send any messages. The job of a trial court judge is to apply the law to specific facts and to deal with individual cases," he said.

The hearing began with prosecutors asking members of Floyd's family to address the court. Mr Floyd's daughter Gianna, 7, was first.

"I ask about him all the time," she said in a video recording.

"My daddy always used to help me brush my teeth."

Asked what she would say to him if she could see him again, she said: "It would be I miss you and I love you."

People react after learning the sentencing of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin outside the Hennepin County Government Center on June 25, 2021. Source: Getty
People react after learning the sentencing of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin outside the Hennepin County Government Center on June 25, 2021. Source: Getty

Prosecutors call for 30 years behind bars for Chauvin

Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year prison sentence, double the upper limit indicated in sentencing guidelines for a first-time offender.

The defence had asked for probation and had unsuccessfully sought a retrial before an expected appeal.

Video of Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on the neck of Mr Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in handcuffs, for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, caused outrage worldwide and the largest protest movement seen in the United States in decades.

Mr Floyd's brother Terrence Floyd addressed Chauvin directly during his victim impact statement on Friday.

"What was going through your head as you had your knee on my brother's neck?" he asked.

He told the judge he wanted the maximum sentence. "We don't want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We've been through that already."

Chauvin addressed the judge, saying he could not give a full statement due to "additional legal matters".

George Floyd's brothers Philonise (C) flanked by Members of the George Floyd family George Floyd's brothers Rodney (L) and Terrence (2nd R), nephew Brandon Williams (L), and lead attorney for the George Floyd family Benjamin Crump, and Al Sharpton (2ndR), the founder and President of National Action Network following the sentencing. Source: Getty
George Floyd's brothers Philonise (C) flanked by Members of the George Floyd family George Floyd's brothers Rodney (L) and Terrence (2nd R), nephew Brandon Williams (L), and lead attorney for the George Floyd family Benjamin Crump, and Al Sharpton (2ndR), the founder and President of National Action Network following the sentencing. Source: Getty
People embrace each other after hearing the sentencing of the killer police officer. Source: Getty
People embrace each other after hearing the sentencing of the killer police officer. Source: Getty

"But very briefly though, I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family," he said.

"There's going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you."

'You will be sentencing me': Chauvin's mum speaks

Chauvin's mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, told the judge she would always believe her son was innocent and her life's two happiest moments were giving birth to Chauvin and pinning his police badge on him when he joined the Minneapolis Police Department.

"Derek has played over and over again in his head the events of that day," she said.

"I have seen the toll it has taken on him. I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me."

In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney-general's office wrote that Chauvin's crime "shocked the conscience of the nation".

In a ruling last month, Mr Cahill found prosecutors had shown aggravating factors that allowed him to hand down a longer prison term than sentencing guidelines would dictate.

The judge agreed Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority; that he treated Mr Floyd with particular cruelty; that he committed the crime as part of a group with three other officers; and that he committed the murder in front of children.

Chauvin has been held at the state's maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights since his conviction.

The three other police officers involved in Floyd's arrest were, like Chauvin, fired the day after.

The three will face trial next year accused of aiding and abetting Mr Floyd's murder.

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