Derek Chauvin — the former Minneapolis police officer convicted in the murder of George Floyd — was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison Friday.
“This is based on your abuse of your position of abuse of authority and also the particular cruelty you’ve shown to George Floyd,” Judge Peter Cahill said Friday afternoon in Hennepin County Court as he handed down the sentence.
“I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family.”
The sentencing came after Chauvin, wearing a light gray suit, white shirt and a freshly shaved head, delivered a brief statement apologizing to the Floyd family.
“Due to some additional legal matters at hand, I am not able to give a full formal statement at this time, but briefly, I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin told the court.
“There is going to be some other information in the future that will be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you.”
Ahead of Chauvin’s comments, a number of Floyd’s family members, including his 7-year-old daughter, Gianna, gave emotional victim impact statements that lambasted the cruelty their loved one endured in his final moments while asking the court to impose a maximum sentence.
“On Monday, May 25, 2020, George Perry Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin in a malicious, insidious display of hate and abuse of power,” Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams told the court.
“Not only did he kill George but he also displayed a total lack of consideration of human life as he did so.”
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, also delivered a statement, saying she believes her son is innocent and has always supported him “one hundred percent.”
“Derek is a quiet, thoughtful, honorable and selfless man, he has a big heart and he always has put others before his own,” Pawlenty, who has never spoken publicly about her son’s case, said as she held back tears.
“The public will never know the loving and caring man that his family does.”
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty in April of all three charges against him — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — following nearly three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses.
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin could only be locked up on second-degree murder — the top charge against him that carries a sentence of between 10 years and eight months and 15 years — but in May, Cahill ruled the convicted killer’s crimes warranted a longer prison stint.
Cahill found that prosecutors had proven four of the five factors that allow for a lengthier sentence, saying the former officer acted with “particular cruelty” when he killed Floyd, which made him eligible for up to 40 years behind bars.
Prosecutors in the case, led by state Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, asked Cahill to sentence Chauvin to 30 years, while his attorney Eric Nelson requested probation on top of the time his client has already served while awaiting sentencing.
The death of Floyd — who was pinned under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis — touched off a firestorm of protests across the globe against racial inequality and police brutality.
Chauvin’s history-making trial has become a symbol in a growing racial justice movement centered on how black Americans are treated during encounters with law enforcement and the difficulties police brutality victims face in seeking justice.
Police officers have long been shielded from being held personally responsible for the actions they commit while on the job due to a web of immunity laws.
But Chauvin’s conviction — coupled with burgeoning efforts to change those statutes — are shaking the status quo.
During the closely watched trial, prosecutors focused on the viral video that showed Floyd gasping for air and begging for his mother under Chauvin’s knee, while the defense argued the death was not murder but a result of Floyd’s drug use and a pre-existing heart condition.
Nelson tried in vain to convince the jury of five men and seven women that Chauvin was distracted by a group of bystanders and that he was following department use-of-force guidelines. But the claim was disputed by a slew of witnesses on the stand, including Minneapolis cops.
Prosecutors hammered home that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck long after he died — and even after paramedics arrived.
The jury found him guilty on all charges on the second day of deliberations.