Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22½ years in prison after being found guilty in the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
Hennepin County Court Judge Peter Cahill sentenced the 45-year-old Chauvin to 270 months for the most serious count on which he was found guilty, unintentional second-degree murder, an enhanced sentence based on aggravating factors. The case, including a lengthy video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd‘s neck after his arrest, sparked international outrage and racial protests in cities across the U.S.
“What the sentence is not based on is emotion or sympathy, but at the same time, I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family,” Judge Cahill said. “You have our sympathies. And I acknowledge and hear the pain that you are feeling.”
The sentence fell short of the 30 years requested by Minnesota prosecutors but well above the 150-month presumptive sentence and within the 12 1/2-to-40-year range for the crime under state sentencing guidelines, given that Chauvin had no criminal record. He also received credit for time served.
Chauvin addressed the court for the first time during his sentencing hearing, offering condolences to the Floyd family and a cryptic reference to information that he said would give them “peace of mind.”
Asked by Judge Cahill if he would like to speak, Chauvin said he was unable to say much, presumably referring to his ongoing legal battle, which includes federal criminal charges and a likely appeal in the Minnesota case.
“At this time, due to some additional legal matters at hand, I’m not able to give a full formal statement at this time,” Chauvin said.
He then turned to face the Floyd family members sitting in the courtroom and addressed them directly.
“Briefly, though, I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said. “There’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope things would give you some peace of mind. Thank you.”
Chauvin was found guilty by a jury April 20 of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the May 2020 death of 46-year-old George Floyd.
Chauvin did not testify on his own behalf during the criminal trial in Minneapolis.
Attorneys for the Floyd family released a statement afterward saying that Chauvin and the city of Minneapolis had been “held accountable” and cheering Black Lives Matter protesters who took to the streets demanding policing changes after Floyd’s death.
“This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability,” said the statement led by attorney Ben Crump. “For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account. While this shouldn’t be exceptional, tragically it is.”
The statement called for Chauvin to be convicted of the federal charges and for the other three officers charged in the case “to face consequences for their actions.”
“That would represent important additional steps toward justice,” the statement said. “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.”
Asked for his
reaction to the Chauvin
sentence, President Biden told reporters Friday afternoon that he thought it was “appropriate.”
“I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate,” Mr. Biden said.