Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. Before sentencing took place, the court heard statements from Floyd’s family and Chauvin had the opportunity to speak.
According to Bloomberg, 'Chauvin on Friday offered condolences to the family of his victim, the first time he spoke during his trial, but said little more because of pending legal issues. During the sentencing, both families were allowed to speak of their particular grief’.
Philonise Floyd, the victim’s brother, said the crime repeats itself without cease. “Every day I have begged for justice to be served, reliving the execution of George,” he said “I haven’t had a real night’s sleep because of the nightmares of hearing my brother beg for his life over and over again.” “My family and I have been given a life sentence.”
Carolyn Pawlenty, Chauvin’s mother, said she spoke for the family. She called her son “a quiet, thoughtful, honorable, and selfless man.” “When he is released, his father and I most likely will not be here,” she said. Pawlenty addressed her son directly: “There is no stronger bond or love than a mother’s love.”
But Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, observed that Chauvin, even in prison, “will have the luxury of seeing his family.”
Bloomberg said that ‘under Minnesota law, Chauvin faced up to four decades in prison. The prosecution team had requested Chauvin receive 30 years behind bars in a June 2 memo, saying that his actions “shocked the nation’s conscience” and that such a sentence would account for the “profound impact” on Floyd’s family and community’.
Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, had signaled that Chauvin could receive a longer sentence than recommended by state guidelines. After the conviction, Cahill said in a May 12 order that Chauvin had abused “a position of trust and authority” and treated Floyd “with particular cruelty. "
The judge also noted that children were witnesses to Floyd’s murder -- a 17-year-old made the video that turned the death into a cause, and she was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize this year for her citizen journalism.
USA Today added that ‘Chauvin has been in a maximum-security prison since a jury convicted him in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, nearly a year after Floyd died in police custody’.
‘Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last May as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death, which was captured on a widely seen video, sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism’.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson opposed a tougher sentence, saying the state failed to prove the aggravating factors, among others, existed when Chauvin arrested Floyd on May 25, 2020. Nelson requested a new trial and a hearing to have the verdict impeached because of what he called jury misconduct.
Nelson argued that Cahill should have allowed Chauvin's trial to take place in a different venue and jurors should have been sequestered for the entirety of the trial due to the significant public interest in the case. Instead, Cahill ordered them sequestered solely for their deliberations, which took less than a day.
Nelson also argued that the state engaged in prosecutorial misconduct and that a juror gave false testimony during the selection process. All of these conditions deprived Chauvin of his Constitutional right to a fair trial, the defense attorney wrote.
However, this request for a new trial was denied by the judge. ‘Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, filed a motion claiming the former Minneapolis police officer was deprived of his Constitutional right to a fair trial, but Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said Nelson failed to prove any of the allegations.
Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, the three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death, will face trial in March’. The sentencing of Derek Chauvin is a welcome sentence but arguably could have been a longer sentence than 22-and-a-half years, particularly, due to the severity of the crime.
Ongoing violence against the African American community and ethnic minorities continues in the US despite reform promised by President Biden during his election campaign. Calls to defund and demilitarise the police remain at the forefront of ideas to tackle systemic issues within policing bodies across the country. What is set to be done in order to tackle these issues remains to be seen.