Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.
Chauvin was convicted by a jury of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April.
The 22.5-year sentence is less than the 40-year maximum sentence for second-degree unintentional murder, the highest charge Chauvin faced, but more than the 10 to 15 years sentence recommended by Minnesota state guidelines.
“I am not basing my sentence also on public opinion, I am not basing it on any attempt to send any messages,” said the Hon. Judge Peter Cahill at the sentencing hearing. “This is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd.”
State prosecutors filed a memo June 2 calling for a sentence of 30 years, noting that Chauvin’s conduct was “particularly cruel.” In the memo, prosecutors noted the presence of four “aggravating factors” and urged the judge to issue a stronger sentence than that recommended by the guidelines.
Eric J. Nelson, Chauvin’s defense counsel, commented on the gravity and divisiveness of the sentencing during the hearing.
“There are a great number of people who will view any sentence you pronounce as overly lenient and insufficient to satisfy justice,” Nelson said at the hearing. “But there is an equal number of people who will view any sentence you pronounce as draconian or overbearing.”
Several of George Floyd’s family members spoke at the hearing, including his daughter Gianna Floyd, his nephew Brandon Williams and his brothers Terrence Floyd and Philonise Floyd.
Williams described the lasting effects of George Floyd’s murder on himself and his family and spoke of Chauvin’s “active decision to kill a father.” At the end of his statement, Williams thanked the court for the opportunity to speak and called for the judge to hand down the maximum sentence.
During his statement, Terrence Floyd asked Chauvin why he made the decisions that led to George Floyd’s death. Terrence Floyd recounted the last conversation he had with his brother, adding how he and George Floyd were planning playdates for their daughters.
“My family and I have been given a life sentence. We will never be able to get George back. That is our daughter’s first love,” Philonise Floyd said at the hearing. “He will never be able to walk Gianna down the aisle at her wedding, attend those magical moments in her life such as the daddy-daughter dance, Sweet 16 parties, seeing off for prom and graduations and she will never be able to have any personal memories with her father.”
Contact Aditya Katewa and Christopher Ying at [email protected].