Washington, Jun 25 (EFE).- White former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22.5 years in prison on a second-degree murder conviction for the May 2020 death of African-American George Floyd.
Under Minnesota law, the 45-year-old Chauvin must serve at least 15 years behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole.
The prosecution had asked Judge Peter Cahill to sentence Chauvin to 30 years, more than double the 12.5-year prison term recommended under Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines.
The fired officer’s attorneys argued that he should be given probation and released on the time he has already served.
“I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family,” Cahill said before pronouncing sentence.
The judge prefaced his remarks by inviting people seeking to understand the legal reasoning behind his decision to consult the 22-page memorandum he was attaching to the sentencing order.
He emphasized, however, that the sentence was neither based on public opinion nor an “attempt to send any messages.”
Chauvin has yet to be tried on federal charges he violated the civil rights of Floyd and of a 14-year-old Black male in a 2017 incident. Any sentence resulting from conviction for federal offenses could potentially be added on to the minimum of 15 years he currently faces.
Friday’s hearing began with victim-impact statements from members of Floyd’s family, starting with a video featuring the words of his 7-year-old daughter.
“It would be I miss you and I love you,” Gianna said when asked by someone off-camera what she would say to her father if she had the chance.
The court also heard from Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams and from the victim’s brothers Philonise and Terrence.
Terrence Floyd addressed Chauvin: “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?”
Philonise Floyd, who has emerged as the family spokesperson, called for the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
“Every day, I have begged for justice to be served, reliving the execution of George while others begged and pleaded for officer Chauvin to simply just allow George to take a breath,” Philonise said.
Chauvin knelt on the neck of the 46-year-old Floyd for more than nine minutes while taking him into custody for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill on May 25, 2020.
Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly complained that he could not breathe and onlookers, including an off-duty paramedic, pleaded with Chauvin to get off his neck.
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, told the court Friday that her son was “a good man” and not a racist.
“I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said, before adding cryptically, “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.”
The victim’s family and their attorneys expressed satisfaction following the hearing.
“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,” said a statement issued by attorney Benjamin Crump. EFE