MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison Friday in the murder of George Floyd — as a Minnesota judge ripped the ex-cop for showing “particular cruelty” during the fatal encounter last year.
Chauvin, 45, showed zero emotion as Judge Peter Cahill handed down the sentence in Hennepin County Court.
“This is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd,” Cahill said.
“[What] the sentence is not based on is emotion or sympathy but at the same time, I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family. You have our sympathies.”
The sentencing came after Chauvin, wearing a light gray suit, white shirt and a freshly shaved head, delivered a brief statement apologizing to the Floyd family.
“Due to some additional legal matters at hand, I am not able to give a full formal statement at this time, but briefly, I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin told the court.
“There is going to be some other information in the future that will be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you.”
Protesters outside of the Hennepin County Courthouse screamed in disgust as the punishment was read out — with some int he crowd blasting the judge for not giving Chauvin the maximum penalty of 40 years.
“That sh-t ain’t right man. Twenty-two and a half years? I’ve lost sleep over this man, I cried over this man. This is reality,” said protester Michael Smith.
“This ain’t justice… That is so far from unacceptable. He murdered someone.”
Under the sentencing guidelines, Chauvin could potentially get out early on good behavior after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or just under 15 years.
Ahead of Chauvin’s comments, a number of Floyd’s family members, including his 7-year-old daughter, Gianna, gave emotional victim impact statements that lambasted the cruelty their loved one endured in his final moments while asking the court to impose a maximum sentence.
“On Monday, May 25, 2020, George Perry Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin in a malicious, insidious display of hate and abuse of power,” Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams told the court.
“Not only did he kill George but he also displayed a total lack of consideration of human life as he did so.”
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, also delivered a statement, saying she believes her son is innocent and has always supported him “one hundred percent.”
“Derek is a quiet, thoughtful, honorable and selfless man, he has a big heart and he always has put others before his own,” Pawlenty, who has never spoken publicly about her son’s case, said as she held back tears.
“The public will never know the loving and caring man that his family does.”
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty in April of all three charges against him — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — following nearly three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses.
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin could only be locked up on second-degree murder — the top charge against him that carries a sentence of between 10 years and eight months and 15 years — but in May, Cahill ruled the convicted killer’s crimes warranted a longer prison stint.
Cahill found that prosecutors had proven four of the five factors that allow for a lengthier sentence, saying the former officer acted with “particular cruelty” when he killed Floyd, which made him eligible for up to 40 years behind bars.
On Friday, Cahill gave Chauvin an extra 10 years on top of the minimum sentencing guidelines but fell short of the maximum time he could’ve imposed.
Prosecutors in the case, led by state Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, asked Cahill to sentence Chauvin to 30 years, while his attorney Eric Nelson requested probation on top of the time his client has already served while awaiting sentencing.
The death of Floyd — who was pinned under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis — touched off a firestorm of protests across the globe against racial inequality and police brutality.
Chauvin’s history-making trial has become a symbol in a growing racial justice movement centered on how black Americans are treated during encounters with law enforcement and the difficulties police brutality victims face in seeking justice.
Police officers have long been shielded from being held personally responsible for the actions they commit while on the job due to a web of immunity laws.
But Chauvin’s conviction — coupled with burgeoning efforts to change those statutes — are shaking the status quo.
Attorneys for the Floyd family said Friday’s sentencing delivered “closure and accountability” to the nation.
“For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account. While this shouldn’t be exceptional, tragically it is. Day after day, year after year, police kill Black people without consequence,” said the lawyers, Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Chris Stewart, in a statement after the hearing. “But today, with Chauvin’s sentence, we take a significant step forward – something that was unimaginable a very short time ago.”
During the closely watched trial, prosecutors focused on the viral video that showed Floyd gasping for air and begging for his mother under Chauvin’s knee, while the defense argued the death was not murder but a result of Floyd’s drug use and a pre-existing heart condition.
Nelson tried in vain to convince the jury of five men and seven women that Chauvin was distracted by a group of bystanders and that he was following department use-of-force guidelines. But the claim was disputed by a slew of witnesses on the stand, including Minneapolis cops.
Prosecutors hammered home that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck long after he died — and even after paramedics arrived.
The jury found him guilty on all charges on the second day of deliberations.