N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Tami Abdollah,Grace Hauck
MINNEAPOLIS – 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.