Former policeman, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison on Friday, for the murder of African-American George Floyd, the killing that sparked America’s biggest demonstrations for racial justice in decades.
45-year-old Chauvin gave his “condolences” to the Floyd family in a Minneapolis court before Judge Peter Cahill handed down a lesser sentence than the 30 years the prosecution had sought. The judge said the sentence wasn’t based on emotion, sympathy or public opinion but the law.
Chauvin, who has been behind bars since being convicted on three counts of murder and manslaughter two months ago, wore a light grey suit as he learnt his fate following a trial that captivated the world. He spoke briefly, after declining to testify during his six-week trial.
“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said after removing his face mask.
Recall that Chauvin and three colleagues arrested Floyd, 46, in May 2020 on suspicion of having passed a fake $20 bill in a store in Minneapolis, a northern city of around 420,000. They handcuffed him and pinned him to the ground in the street.
Chauvin then knelt on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, indifferent to the dying man’s groans and to the pleas of distraught passers-by. The scene, filmed and uploaded by a young woman, quickly went viral and sparked global outrage
Minnesota law provides for a minimum sentence of 12.5 years but Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, his voice choking, told the court that Cahill should hand Chauvin the stiffest term possible. The judge declined to elaborate on how he had come to 22.5 years but said he would detail them in a lengthy written judgment.
However, his three former colleagues will face trial in March 2022 on charges of complicity in homicide. In parallel, the four men also face federal charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights. No date has been set for that trial.