Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 270 months, or 22.5 years, in the murder of George Floyd last year.
Chauvin, 45, was expected to serve about 15 years behind bars.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said the sentence was not based on emotion or sympathy but said “we need to recognize the pain of the Floyd family.”
In a memorandum opinion regarding his sentencing order, Cahill said two of four aggravating factors were at play – that Chauvin abused trust and authority and acted with particular cruelty toward Floyd.
Earlier at the sentencing hearing, Chauvin offered his “condolences” to Floyd’s family but did not apologize for his actions. He said he was unable to speak further due to other ongoing litigation.
Chauvin’s mother spoke at the hearing – the first family member to testify on Chauvin’s behalf.
Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter Gianna, his nephew and brothers also offered comment at the hearing and called for the court to give Chauvin the maximum sentence.
Chauvin must register as predatory offender, give DNA sample, memo says
Chauvin will be required to register as a predatory offender and provide a DNA sample, according to Cahill’s memorandum opinion.
Chauvin’s “‘gratuitous infliction of pain’ and ‘psychological’ cruelty, justify an upward sentencing departure,” Cahill wrote, noting that Chauvin also acted “while imbued with the authority of the state” and abused that authority.
Cahill found that Chauvin’s conduct was significantly more serious than the typical crime of second-degree murder. Chauvin treated Floyd with “particular cruelty” and remained indifferent to Floyd’s pleas even as Floyd begged for his life.
Cahill concluded in his memorandum that Chauvin “treated Mr. Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor,” which is why 270 months is an appropriate sentence.
Crowd reacts to sentencing at George Floyd Square
In George Floyd Square, the crowd watched Cahill announce Chauvin’s sentence on Jennifer Starr Dodd’s smartphone. Although many were hoping for a longer sentence, many like Starr Dodd felt 22.5 years was still a reason to celebrate especially given that he is still awaiting trial on federal civil rights charges.
Starr Dodd said she wasn’t expecting Chauvin to speak given that he said very little during the trial but she wasn’t pleased with his brief comments.
“I really wish he hadn’t said anything at all,” said Starr Dodd. “That was a slap in the face. He should’ve just stayed quiet and that would’ve been expected and better received.”
‘It is not justice,’ the Rev. Al Sharpton says
Attorneys and members of the Floyd family spoke following the sentencing hearing Friday, alongside the families of Daunte Wright and Jacob Blake, both Black men shot by police.
“It is not justice because George Floyd is in a grave tonight even though Chauvin will be in jail,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Justice would have been George Floyd never having been killed. Justice would have been the maximum (sentence). We got more than we thought only because we’ve been disappointed before.”
The Floyd family and attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Chris Stewart called the sentence a “significant step forward” in a joint statement Friday.
“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,” the statement said.
“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.”
The NAACP said in a statement its “hearts are with the Floyd family today.”
“While George Floyd’s murderer was held accountable in court, we know that no amount of jail time is going to bring Gianna Floyd’s father back. Legislation is urgently needed to ensure that what happened to George Floyd over a year ago will not happen again a year from now, and devastate another family,” the NAACP wrote.
Minnesota attorney general calls on lawmakers to pass George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called the sentencing Friday “an important moment for our country.”
“The outcome of this case is critically important, but, by itself, it’s not enough,” he said. “My hope for our country is that this moment gives us pause and allows us to rededicate ourselves to the real societal change that will move us much further along the road to justice.”
Ellison called on lawmakers to pass “the best and strongest” version of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act “now.”
“It must be passed. Lives are depending on it. It’s just that simple,” he said.
Chauvin’s mother testifies, first in family to speak on ex-cop’s behalf
Carolyn Pawlenty, Chauvin’s mother, told the court that the media, public and the prosecution team had wrongly depicted her son as aggressive, heartless, uncaring and racist.
“I want this court to know that none of these things are true and that my son is a good man,” Pawlenty said. “Derek is a quiet, thoughtful, honorable and selfless man. He has a big heart, and he has always put others before his own. The public will never know the loving and caring man he is, but his family does.”
Pawlenty said Chauvin has played the events of that day over and over in his head. “I have seen the toll it has taken on him,” she said. “I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me.”
Speaking directly to her son, she told him that her happiest moment was giving birth to him, followed by pinning on his police badge.
“Derek, I want you to know I have always believed in your innocence, and I will never waiver from that,” Pawlenty said. “I have read numerous letters from people around the world that also believe in your innocence.”
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said the case is “at the epicenter of a cultural and political divide” in the U.S. “We tried to keep a lot of that out of the courtroom” and focus on the facts, he said, noting how divisive people felt about the case.
Floyd’s family call for tough sentence
Floyd’s daughter Gianna testified remotely via cellphone camera video. Wearing a checkered shirt and purple headband, she told the court that she “asks how did my dad get hurt” and wishes she could play with him and have him help her brush her teeth like he used to every night.
Gianna told the court that she knows her dad is still around her through his spirit. If she could say anything to him, she said would tell him that “I miss him and I love him.”
Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, and brothers, Terrence and Philonise Floyd, also spoke, asking the court to give Chauvin the maximum sentence.
Philonise Floyd spoke to the court with a tissue in his hand, wiping away tears. He said he has not had a good night’s sleep since his brother’s death, which changed his life. He said he’s spoken in the United Nations, Africa, Canada, Japan, and many other countries, on behalf of George.
“Every day I have begged for justice to be served, remembering the execution of George,” he said, and hearing Floyd’s scream for his mom and pleading for his life.
“George’s life mattered, so my family and I, most of all, my niece Gianna, she needs closure,” Floyd said. “My family and I have been given a life sentence, we will not be able to get George back.”
Terrence Floyd said he would ask Chauvin, who sat just several feet away from him, “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?”
He paused at times with emotion and looked down.
“We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist,” he told the judge. “We’ve been through that already. … If it was us, if the rules were reverse, there would be no case, it’d be open and shut. We’d be in the jail for murdering somebody. So we ask for that same penalty for Derek Chauvin.”
Judge denies new trial
Hennepin County Jude Peter Cahill on Friday morning denied a defense attorney’s request for a new trial.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, filed a motion claiming Chauvin was deprived of his Constitutional right to a fair trial, but Cahill said Nelson failed to prove any of the allegations.
Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, the three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death, will face trial in March.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, Lane, Keung and Thao for violating Floyd’s civil rights, which could add time to the sentences the former officers may face. Those charges accuse them of violating a federal law forbidding government officials from abusing their authority.
Violating someone’s civil rights is punishable “by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty,” depending on the circumstances and injuries resulting from the crime, according to the Department of Justice.
Chauvin also faces another federal indictment stemming from a confrontation with a 14-year-old in 2017.