Derek Chauvin the former policeman responsible for the murder of African American George Floyd, has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison .
The 45-year-old Chauvin gave his “condolences” to the Floyd family in a Minneapolis court before Judge Peter Cahill handed down a lesser sentence than the 30 years the prosecution had sought.
During a tense hearing in which the court watched a recorded message by Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter and heard from Chauvin’s mother, Cahill said
“The sentence is not based on emotion or sympathy,” it had not been based “on public opinion” either but on the law and the facts specific to the case, as he acknowledged the “deep and tremendous pain” the case had caused, particularly to the Floyd family.
Their lawyer Ben Crump in his tweet called the sentencing a “historic” step towards racial reconciliation in the United States.“(It) brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability,”
President Joe Biden weighed in saying:
“I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate.”
Chauvin, who has been behind bars since being convicted on three counts of murder and manslaughter two months ago, wore a light grey suit as he learnt his fate following a trial that captivated the world.
He spoke briefly, after declining to testify during his six-week trial.
“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said after removing his face mask. “At this time due to some additional legal matters at hand, I’m not able to give a full formal statement at this time. “There’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind,” he added.
Before he spoke, Carolyn Pawlenty (chauvin’s mother ) said her son, , was a “good man.” and have always believed in his innocence and will never waver from it,”
Earlier, the court watched a moving video from the late Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter, Gianna Floyd.
“I miss you and I love you,” the girl said when asked in the recorded message what she said would say to her father today.
Chauvin and three colleagues arrested Floyd, 46, in May 2020 on suspicion of having passed a fake $20 bill in a store in Minneapolis, a northern city of around 420,000. They handcuffed him and pinned him to the ground in the street.
Chauvin then knelt on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, indifferent to the dying man’s groans and to the pleas of distraught passers-by.
The scene, was filmed and uploaded by a 17 year old girl , quickly went viral. After weeks of home confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people poured onto streets across the country and overseas, to demand an end to racism and police brutality.
The jurors took less than 10 hours to convict the accused after the judge denied the defense’s request for a new trial. Their decision was welcomed with a huge sigh of relief across the country. Many had feared an acquittal would lead to worse unrest, while others worried that once again a white police officer would get away with what they saw as murder.
According to reports, Chauvin could serve just two-thirds of any prison sentence, with the remaining third on supervised release if he upholds a good behavior.
The case doesn’t end with Chauvin. his three former colleagues (J Alexander Kueng, 27, Thomas Lane, 38, and Tou Thao, 35 ) will face trial in March 2022 on charges of complicity in homicide ( face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.) . In parallel, the four men also face federal charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights. No date has yet been set for that trial.
The George Floyd’s killing sparked America’s biggest demonstrations for racial justice in decades and thus led to millions of people following up on the Chauvin’s trial across the country. The Justice Department is currently investigating the Minneapolis Police Department for the alleged systematic violations of the civil rights of people in the city.