MINNEAPOLIS (CN) — Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for last year's murder of George Floyd.
At a Friday afternoon sentencing hearing, members of Floyd’s family and Chauvin’s mother gave statements. Chauvin, who was shown on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck during his fatal May 2020 arrest, made only a brief statement, saying that other ongoing legal proceedings prevented him from speaking much. Chauvin is also facing federal civil rights charges related to Floyd’s death and a similar detention of a teenager in 2017, along with tax fraud charges in his home county east of the Twin Cities.
He expressed his condolences to the Floyd family and said “there’s going to be information coming out in the future that will be of interest” and that he hoped it would “bring them peace of mind.”
Chauvin’s statement came after a series of victim impact statements from Floyd’s family members. His brothers Philonise and Terrence were joined by nephew Brandon Williams in court. Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter Gianna appeared via video.
“I have had to sit through each day of Officer Derek Chauvin’s trial and watch the video of George dying… over and over again. For an entire year, I had to relive George’s torture and death every hour of the day,” Philonise Floyd said. “George’s life mattered. So my family and I, most of all my niece Gianna… she needs closure.”
Terrence Floyd addressed Chauvin directly. "I wanted to know from the man himself, why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother's neck?" he asked.
He asked Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill to consider what would have happened had a Black man killed someone in the way Chauvin did. “If it’d been us, there would have been no case. It would have been open-and-shut,” he said. “We’d have been under the jail. For murder…. We don’t want to see smacks on the wrist. We’ve seen that already.”
Gianna Floyd’s statement was brief. Questioned on video, she said she misses having her father to help her brush her teeth and that she looked forward to “going on airplane rides” when she saw him again.
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, told the court that her son was more than the public image that emerged of him after Floyd’s death.
"Derek devoted 19 years of his life to the Minneapolis Police Department,” she said. “It has been difficult for me to read and hear what the media, public and prosecution team believe Derek to be, an aggressive, heartless, uncaring person. I can tell you that is far from the truth.
“Even though I’ve not spoken publicly, I have always supported him 100% and always will. Derek has played over and over in his head the events of that day. I have seen the toll it’s taken on him,” she added. “I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me.”
Attorneys on both sides also gave statements. For Chauvin, Eric Nelson of Halberg Criminal Defense encouraged Cahill to consider Chauvin’s lack of criminal history and the polarized response to the case among the public.
“There are a great number of people who will view any sentence you pronounce as overly lenient and insufficient to satisfy justice,” he said. “But there are an equal number of people who will view any sentence as draconian and overbearing. Either way, some members of the public will view this case as a miscarriage of justice.”