MINNEAPOLIS – Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison on Friday, ending a case that has sparked protests across the country. police abuse of blacks.
The sentence, handed down by Judge Peter A. Cahill of the Hennepin County District Court, came more than a year after a widely shared cellphone video captured Mr. Chauvin resting his knee on Mr. Floyd for over nine minutes along a Minneapolis street. . Earlier this year, Mr. Chauvin was convicted of second degree murder, and the conviction followed moving statements in court on Friday by members of Mr. Floyd’s family as well as Mr. Chauvin’s mother. .
Mr Chauvin, who spoke only briefly at Friday’s hearing, offering condolences to the Floyd family, has been behind bars since his trial, which ended in April. The judge said Mr. Chauvin would be credited with 199 days already served for his sentence. Authorities said he was being held in solitary confinement for his own safety.
Prior to the sentencing hearing, Mr. Chauvin’s attorney, Eric J. Nelson, requested leniency from the court, requesting probation and serving time. Mr Nelson wrote in a memorandum that Mr Chauvin did not know he was committing a crime when he attempted to arrest Mr Floyd over a report that he attempted to use a forged $ 20 bill to buy cigarettes. Mr. Nelson also argued that placing Mr. Chauvin in jail would make him a target for other inmates.
In seeking a 30-year prison sentence for Mr. Floyd, prosecutors argued that the former officer’s actions had “traumatized Mr. Floyd’s family, the passers-by who saw Mr. Floyd die and the community.” And his conduct shocked the conscience of the nation.
The murder of Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by Mr. Chauvin, 45, who is white, has led to a national judgment on racial injustice in almost every aspect of American life. Calls have emerged across the country to fund police budgets, remove statues of historical figures linked to racism, and diversify predominantly white boards of directors.
The maximum sentence allowed by Minnesota law for second degree murder, the most serious charge for which Mr. Chauvin has been convicted, is 40 years. According to Minnesota sentencing guidelines, however, a deemed sentence for someone like Mr. Chauvin without a criminal history is 12.5 years. The jury, which deliberated for just over 10 hours following a six-week trial, also found Mr. Chauvin guilty of third degree murder and manslaughter.
In recent weeks, Judge Cahill had ruled that four so-called “aggravating factors” applied to the case, raising the prospect of a harsher sentence. The judge concluded that Mr. Chauvin had acted with particular cruelty; acted with the participation of three other people, who were fellow officers; abused his position of authority; and committed his crime in the presence of children, who witnessed the Minneapolis street corner murder on May 25, 2020.
Mr. Chauvin’s conviction was a rare reprimand from the criminal justice system on a police officer who killed someone while on duty. Officers often have wide latitude in using force, and juries have always been reluctant to guess them, especially when making split-second decisions under dangerous circumstances.
Mr. Chauvin is one of 11 police officers who have been convicted of murder for murders on duty since 2005, according to research by Philip M. Stinson, professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University. The lightest sentence was just under seven years in prison, while the harshest was 40 years. The average sentence was 21.7 years.
Mr. Chauvin’s conviction on Friday, while an important milestone, does not end legal proceedings over Mr. Floyd’s death. Mr. Chauvin still faces criminal charges in federal court, where he is accused of violating Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights. And three other police officers face a state trial, scheduled for March, for complicity. These officers were also indicted by a federal grand jury.