Ex-Cop Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison for Killing George Floyd
There will be no probation for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. The ex-cop received more than a 22-year prison sentence on Friday, June 25, two months after a jury convicted him of three charges, including second-degree murder, in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson had requested probation, but the judge rejected that plea. Nelson filed a motion for a new trial just before sentencing, contending that Chauvin did not get a fair trial. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill also denied that request before sentencing the callous ex-cop. Prior to sentencing, Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter, Gianna, provided a heartbreaking victim’s impact statement via video. “I ask about him all the time,” the young girl noted in response to questions posed by someone off camera. She said she thinks about how her father got hurt. “I want to play with him, have fun, and go on a plane ride with him,” Gianna said. “We used to have dinner every single night before we went to bed. He used to help me brush my teeth,” Gianna added. She concluded that those “mean people did something to him.” Three others gave emotional victim impact statements, including Floyd’s brothers Terrence and Philonise Floyd, and his nephew Brandon Williams. “What was going through your mind when you had your knee on my brother’s neck,” Terrence Floyd asked? Philonise said he was a trucker at the time of his brother’s murder and was thrust in the role of an advocate for justice. “I haven’t had a real night’s sleep because of the nightmares of hearing my brother beg and plead for his life,” he told the court as Chauvin sat masked and without showing any emotion. “I’ve been lifting my voice so that my brother didn’t die in vain,” Philonise Floyd added. Chauvin briefly addressed the court offering condolences to the Floyd family, but cryptically stated that “there’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and that I hope will give you some peace of mind.”
Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump called the sentence historic. “This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability. For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account,” Crump asserted.
“While this shouldn’t be exceptional, tragically it is. Day after day, year after year, police kill Black people without consequence. But today, with Chauvin’s sentence, we take a significant step forward – something that was unimaginable a very short time ago. Now, we look for Chauvin to also be convicted on the federal charges pending against him and for the three other officers to face consequences for their actions. That would represent important additional steps toward justice.”
“At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve come. Those who raised their voices to demand justice for George Floyd need to know that their activism made a difference. Not only were Chauvin and the City of Minneapolis held accountable, but cities and states across the country have passed meaningful reforms, including restrictions on chokeholds and better training and protocols. We need this sentence to usher in a new era of accountability that transforms how Black people are treated by police. To achieve that – real, lasting change in police departments from coast to coast – we need the U.S. Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act without further delay.”
Last month, Judge Cahill ruled prosecutors had proved four aggravating factors that warranted a lengthy prison sentence. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and prosecutors successfully showed that Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority, treated Floyd with “particular cruelty” and that the ex-cop committed a felony in the presence of children whom they said witnessed Floyd dying. “It was particularly cruel to kill George Floyd slowly by preventing his ability to breathe when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear he was having trouble breathing,” Judge Cahill determined. Chauvin pressed his knee in Floyd’s neck for nearly nine and a half minutes, even refusing to let up as EMT workers arrived to provide medical assistance. “[Floyd] was begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die but [Chauvin] remained indifferent,” Judge Cahill continued. Three other former officers involved in the incident – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, are awaiting trial on federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights and state-level indictments of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Judge Cahill set a March 2020 trial date for those officers. Chauvin also faces federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights, and a new indictment alleges that Chauvin deprived a 14-year-old of his civil rights in 2017. If convicted of the additional charges, Chauvin could face stiffer punishment. According to federal law, violating someone’s civil rights could lead to life in prison or even the death penalty. “This has been painful for Hennepin County, the state of Minnesota, and throughout the country and most of all for the Floyd family,” Judge Cahill stated.