On Friday (June 25), former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin learned exactly how long he will be imprisoned for the May 2020 murder of George Floyd.
Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 270 months – 22 and a half years – for the murder of George Floyd, with 199 days credit for time already served. Even though Chauvin was found guilty of three counts, under Minnesota law, he could only be sentenced on the most serious crime — second-degree murder.
“I ask about him all the time,” Gianna Floyd said of her father during her victim impact statement. “I miss him and I love him.”
The seven-year-old was the first of four family members to speak during Chauvin’s sentencing. When asked what she would do if she ever saw her dad again, she replied, “I want to play with him.”
Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, asked that the maximum penalty be imposed.
“What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?” Terrence Floyd asked Chauvin. Like Williams, he asked that his brother’s murderer receive the maximum sentence.
Philonise Floyd says nightmares of his older brother begging for his life haunt him to this day.
“George’s life mattered.” Philonise said. “My family and I have been given a life sentence, we will never be able to get George back.”
Hours before Chauvin was sentenced, Judge Peter Cahill denied the defense’s motion for a new trial and opted against a hearing regarding allegations of jury misconduct. Previously, the defense had asked for probation and sought a retrial ahead of an expected appeal. Chauvin’s lawyer has argued that his client was deprived of a fair trial because of prosecutorial and jury irregularities.
He faced up to 30 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter and/or a $20,000 fine. A ruling last month acknowledged aggravating factors at play when Floyd was murdered, which made additional time a possibility for the disgraced officer.
It has been a long – and highly publicized – road to justice for friends and family of Floyd. His killing, which led to global protests concerning race, social equality and the deadly use of force, may have likely gone uncontested had it not been for cellphone footage that captured his fatal encounter with police.
“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It is exactly that. You can believe your eyes,” prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher said. “This wasn’t policing. This was murder.”
Chauvin’s trial began March 8, 2021. The trial was significant in that it was the first time a Minnesota judge approved the filming of a full criminal trial. The jury consisted of six white people and six people of color, who unanimously found him guilty on three counts: unintentional second-degree murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter.
Another landmark courtroom moment: Chauvin became the first white Minnesotan police officer to be convicted of murdering a black person.
Following his April 2021 conviction, Judge Cahill agreed to accept a prosecution motion to revoke Chauvin’s bail and Chauvin was taken back into police custody. Three other officers – Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao – have pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting. Their trial is set for March 2022.
A former warden at a California prison told the Law & Crime website that it won’t be easy to keep Chauvin safe after he’s sentenced.
“One could argue that Derek Chauvin is America’s most hated person,” Cameron Lindsay said. “So therefore, the Minnesota Department of Corrections will have a challenge in terms of ensuring his safety and security.”
The crime, coverage and fallout surrounding Floyd’s killing has made a lifelong impact on all parties involved.
On June 11, Darnella Frazier, the Minnesota teen who stopped to record the final moments of George Floyd’s life, was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize. The video aided a global activist movement denouncing police brutality and systemic racism, and was critical evidence in Chauvin’s trial.
Frazier was given a “special citation” by the committee, who in the announcement cited the footage as an example of “the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quests for truth and justice.”
Frazier was 17 years old when she recorded Chauvin and other officers restraining Floyd on the ground. The clip helped change the narrative surrounding police misconduct, and videos stemming from the incident were viewed more than 1.2 billion times in the 12 days following Floyd’s death. On the one year anniversary of the murder, Frazier said the events she witnessed that day have forever changed the way she views the world.
“This is my truth.” She captioned the post. “[One] year anniversary. Rest in peace to George Floyd.”
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