(The Center Square) – Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22.5 years in prison after being convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder and other charges in the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin, 45, also was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for longer than nine minutes as Floyd pleaded he couldn’t breath. Floyd was declared dead later that day.
Before the sentencing, four victims gave statements of how Floyd’s death impacted them. Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, asked for Chauvin to be given the maximum penalty, saying his uncle’s death “forever traumatized us.”
“Our family is forever broken,” Williams said.
Philonise Floyd, Floyd’s brother, requested the maximum sentence as well.
“He will never be able to walk Gianna down the aisle at her wedding, and attend those magical moments of her life,” he said of Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank requested Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill exceed sentencing guidelines, citing aggravating factors and abuse of power.
“This is not the typical second-degree murder,” Frank said.
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, defended the former officer.
“My son’s identity has been reduced to that of a racist. I want the court to know that none of these things are true, and my son is a good man,” Pawlenty said.
“When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me,” she said.
A bystander captured video of the event that went viral, sparking protests worldwide. Some U.S. protests devolved into violence, including looting, setting fires and physical confrontations with police and others.
Cahill ruled in May that evidence supported four aggravating factors in Floyd’s death, which could allow Cahill to exceed state sentencing guidelines.
Under Minnesota statutes, Chauvin was sentenced for the most serious charge convicted – second-degree murder – which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Frank sought a 30-year sentence.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued the former officer has no prior offenses, so his sentence should be less than sentencing guidelines. Nelson requested Chauvin receive probation.
“Mr. Chauvin asks the Court to look beyond its findings, to his background, his lack of criminal history, his amenability to probation, to the unusual facts of this case, and to his being a product of a ‘broken’ system,” Nelson wrote in a filing.
Nelson said 60 of 90 people charged with second-degree unintentional murder in the state between 2010-2019 received guideline sentencing of 12.5 years, arguing Chauvin should as well.
On Thursday, Cahill denied a motion to hold a new trial.
Floyd’s death sparked riots causing more than $500 million of damage to nearly 1,500 Twin Cities businesses — the second most expensive in the United States after the 1992 Los Angeles civil unrest following the police beating of Rodney King. Still, taxpayers continue to bear the financial burden.
The Minnesota National Guard’s response to initial riots cost nearly $13 million, and it has been deployed more than three times since then. About 200 Minneapolis Police Officers left the force or claimed mental or physical injuries, which one attorney estimated will cost the city $35 million to settle. Police overtime for Chauvin’s trial cost $3 million.
Minneapolis settled a civil suit with Floyd’s family for a record $27 million.