On June 25, 2021, ex-Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 270 months (22.5 years) in prison for the murder of George Floyd. A ruling based on the abuse of a position of trust and authority and also “the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd.”
Under the sentencing, Chauvin must pay a mandatory surcharge of $78 from prison wages, register as a predatory offender (as required by law), provide a DNA sample (as required by law) and is prohibited from owning firearms, ammunition, or explosives for the remainder of his life.
Four family members of George Floyd voiced how the murder impacted their lives before the sentence was announced. Starting with an impact statement from George Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter.
Gianna, George’s seven-year-old daughter, said that her father would help brush her teeth and spoke of missing play dates, hoping that when she sees him again they would play like they used to.
Brandon Williams, the nephew of George Floyd, made it clear that the acts by all police, including Chauvin, were visibly acts of hate that “the one thing we can not get back is George Floyd.”
Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd, was called up next. As he stood before Chauvin, he asked what was going through Derek’s head when he held a knee to his brother’s neck. Asking why he had continued to do so when “[Chauvin] knew that [George] possessed no threat anymore.” Concluding in heartache that the playdate he and his brother George were planning for their daughters a month prior can no longer happen.
Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, said “everyday I have begged for justice to be served. Reliving the execution of George while others begged and pleaded for officer Chauvin to simply just allow George to take a breath.” Revealing through tear-filled eyes that he had not had a real nights sleep due to constant nightmares he has “of hearing my brother beg and plea for his life over and over again.”
After the family members spoke, Matthew Frank, the prosecutor, stood before the judge with a statement that ex-police officer Chauvin “abused his position of trust and authority as a police officer,” by “disregarding all his training.” Making it clear that the struggle Floyd displayed was an automatic reaction “when you’ve all the sudden realize you’re having trouble breathing.” Clarifying “it’s just innate. Right? We all want to survive. We know we have to breathe.”
Backing the Floyd family with respectful non-understanding for their loss. “I understand — well no. I can’t understand what his family members and friends are going through. I can’t.” Ending his statement with “we believe your honor, that these four aggravating factors in the findings of the court has made, certainly justified. And upward departure. Because there are four of them, not standing alone but in a sense not overlapping but coming together to show this is not the typical second-degree murder. This is egregious.”
Carolyn Pawlenty, Chauvin’s mother, spoke on behalf of her entire family. Defending her son’s appearance that what the media had called a racist was not her son. Telling her son Derek was a good man. At the end of her brief statement, she left one last word to her son: “I will do what you told me to do, take care of myself.”
Before Derek Chauvin could deliver his statement, Erie J. Nelson, defense counsel, told of good words fellow police officers that worked with Chauvin said, “they told me he was a solid police officer. That he did his job. That if somebody asked him to do a particular task he never complained, he did it.” Cementing Chauvin never complained by adding “one of [Derek’s] Sargent told me that if “I had asked him to dig a ditch for eight hours, he would have picked up a shovel and he would have never complained for a second.”
The judge called Chauvin up to give any impute to the court if any. Derek Chauvin then gave a brief statement that showed little to no remorse. Hinting at possible new information in the future.
“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. There’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest. I hope things would give you some peace of mind.”
After a 15 minute recess, Judge Peter A. Cahill of Hennepin County District Court, ruled that four of the five factors were proven beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority, (2) he treated Floyd with particular cruelty, (3) children were present during the offense, and (4) Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other people.
Then sentenced Derek Chauvin to 270 months (22.5 years) in prison on June 25, 2021, for the murder of George Floyd. 7.5 years less than the 30-year sought prison sentence. Judge also denied Chauvin’s request for a new trial.
While this stands as a win for many on Floyd’s side and the ongoing fight against police brutality upon people of color, it remains a hardship and a lost life for the Floyd family.
A trial for the other three former Minneapolis police officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng, is set for March 2022.