Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis police officer, has been sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for the murder of George Floyd.
Delivering judgement on Friday, Peter Cahill, the presiding judge, said the sentence was not based on public opinion.
“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. I acknowledge and hear the pain you are feeling,” the judge said.
“I am not basing my sentence on public opinion. I’m not basing it on any attempt to send any message but based on specific facts.”
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck, when he was arrested for allegedly spending a counterfeit $20 note in a shop.
The video of the incident in which Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” went viral and sparked major protests within and outside the US.
An autopsy later confirmed that the cause of Floyd’s death was linked to pressure on his neck.
During the trial, Floyd’s family had said they wanted a maximum sentence — which is 40 years for a second-degree murder — for the convict, but prosecutors had asked for a 30-year sentence for Chauvin.
Speaking before the sentencing, Chauvin offered his condolences to Floyd’s family.
“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. There’s gonna be some other information in the future that would be of interest, and I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you,” the former officer said.
The Friday sentencing comes months after a jury at a Minnesota state court found Chauvin guilty on the three counts of murder levelled against him.
The former police officer had been charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, but had pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
In the verdict delivered by the jury in April 2021, Chauvin’s bail was also revoked at the time.
Meanwhile, in March, the city of Minneapolis approved the sum of $27 million as settlement, following the civil lawsuit filed by Floyd’s family over his death in police custody.
Speaking further in his ruling on Friday, the judge said Chauvin’s sentence was based “on your abuse of a position of trust and authority, and also the particular cruelty shown to Mr Floyd”.
Chauvin was also told to register as a predatory offender, and will be prohibited from owning firearms or ammunition following his sentencing.
Reacting to the ruling, Keith Ellison, Minnesota attorney-general, expressed hope that the judgement will bring about a rededication to societal change
“The sentence that the court just imposed on Derek Chauvin — 270 months — is one of the longest a former police officer has ever received for unlawful use of deadly force. Like the conviction of Derek Chauvin two months ago, today’s sentencing is not justice, but it is another moment of accountability on the road to justice,” Ellison said.
“It’s difficult to see anyone lose their freedom but seeing somebody lose their life through torture over nine-and-a-half minutes is incomparably worse. Those minutes and seconds are sealed into the minds of people across the world who watched George Floyd die.
“My hope for Derek Chauvin is that he uses his sentence to reflect on the choices that he made on May 25, 2020. My hope is that he will find it within himself to acknowledge the impact of his choices on George Floyd, his family, fellow police officers in the world.
“Today is also an important moment for our country. The outcome of this case is critically important. But by itself, it’s not enough. My hope for our country is that this moment gives us pause and allows us to rededicate ourselves to the real societal change that will move us much further along the road to justice.”
Also reacting in a statement, Ben Crump, Floyd’s family attorney, described the sentence as “historic”.
“This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability,” he said.
“For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account. 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.”