A local activist reacts to the sentencing of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on June 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
(KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Judge Peter Cahill has sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
A jury in Minneapolis convicted Chauvin of murdering Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes after Floyd was arrested on suspicion of having used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Two other officers assisted Chauvin in restraining Floyd, while another prevented bystanders from interfering. All four officers were subsequently fired, and all are facing state and federal charges.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, and was sentenced based on the most serious charge. In Minnesota, second-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of up to forty years in prison, with sentencing guidelines recommending a sentence of ten-and-a-half to fifteen years for offenders without a criminal record.
However, in the Floyd case, the state attorney general’s office argued for a longer sentence due to several aggravating factors, including the fact that Chauvin as a police officer had abused his authority; the particular cruelty involved in Floyd’s death: the fact that children were present; and that Chauvin had acted in concert with the other officers. Chauvin’s attorneys asked for a lighter sentence, based on his lack of criminal history and the fear that he would face violence in prison.
In pronouncing sentence, Judge Peter Cahill cited cruelty and abuse of authority as factors in his decision to impose a longer jail term. At the same time, he insisted that his decision was not influenced emotion or public opinion.
Floyd’s death provoked widespread protests and demonstrations in the United States and around the world, and gave impetus to ongoing debate and discussion about racism and justice in the country. After the sentencing, Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a statement, praying for Floyd’s family and for the community.
“I pray that today’s sentencing will bring a measure of peace and healing to George Floyd’s family, his friends, and our community, while prompting us to go deeper in our conversations about race, justice, violence, and peace,” the archbishop said.
“Please join me in praying that the Lord will guide us in those conversations, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable they may be, while bringing consolation to the Floyd family, healing to our community, and protection to all who work for peace.”
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