Derek Chauvin Was Just Sentenced to 22.5 Years for Murdering George Floyd

“This is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority, and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd," the sentencing judge said.
June 25, 2021, 8:04pm
In this photo provided by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin poses for a booking photo after his conviction April 21, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In this photo provided by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin poses for a booking photo after his conviction April 21, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Minnesota Department of Corrections via Getty Images)

Derek Chauvin is going to prison for a long time.

The former Minneapolis police officer convicted in the murder of George Floyd, will serve 22 and a half years in prison, a Hennepin County District judge ruled Friday evening.

“The case is not based on 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,” said Judge Peter Cahill. While issuing the sentence, Cahill added, “I am not basing my sentence also on public opinion. I am not basing it on any attempt to send any messages.”

“This is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority, and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd,” he said.

Chauvin will get time-served credit for the 199 days he spent in prison while awaiting trial and sentencing. His sentence is less than the prosectors’ request of 30 years, but exceeds the state’s minimum guidelines.

Moments before Chauvin was sentenced, several members of the Floyd family, including his 7-year-old daughter Gianna, spoke about the emotional toll of losing their loved one.

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“I miss you,” Gianna said about her father in a pre-recorded message played in court. “I love him.”

"Our family is forever broken and one thing we cannot get back is George Floyd," Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams said.

“I wanted to know from the man himself why. What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck,” Terrence Floyd, George’s brother, said through tears. “When you knew that he posed no threat anymore and he was handcuffed, why didn’t you at least get up? Why did you stay there?”

“My family and I, most of all my niece Gianna. She needs closure,” George’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told the judge Friday. “Chauvin had no regard for human life. For George’s life.”

Chauvin, wearing civilian clothes, remained silent for the duration of most of his sentencing much like he did during his trial earlier this year. The former cop’s eyes darted around the courtroom as Floyd’s family and state prosecutors made the case for the maximum sentence.

When given the opportunity to speak, the former cop briefly—and cryptically—addressed the Floyd family directly for the first time.

“At this time, due to some additional legal matters at hand, I am unable to give a full formal statement at this time. But briefly though, I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” he said. “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.”

Floyd’s family wasn’t alone in trying to convince Cahill how he should rule. While speaking publicly for the first time, Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty called Derek a loving, caring and selfless man.

“When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me,” Pawlenty said Friday before turning to the former officer. “Derek, my happiest moment was when I gave birth to you. And my second is when I was honored to pin your police badge on you.” Pawlenty did not mention Floyd or the impact of his murder on the Floyd family.

“I want you to know I always believed in your innocence, and I will never waiver from that, '' she continued.

The sentencing comes two months after a jury found Chauvin guilty of killing the 46-year-old Black man outside a Minneapolis convenience store.

It was during this encounter last May that Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground and kneeled on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, even as bystanders begged the officer to stop. Earlier, a store employee had called 911 and alleged that Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Floyd’s death, alongside the deaths of other unarmed Black Americans like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, sparked a national upheaval over police violence against Black Americans in the summer of 2020.  

On April 20, after three weeks of testimony from law enforcement and medical experts and bystanders, Chauvin was found guilty on all counts, which included second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The jury reached their decision after less than two days of deliberation.

A day before his sentencing on Friday, Cahill denied Chauvin’s motion for a new trial, where Chauvin claimed he didn’t receive a fair trial because of the trial’s publicity and the judge’s refusal to sequester the jury before closing remarks.

Chauvin’s sentencing won’t be the last court proceeding regarding Floyd’s death. The other three former officers present when Floyd died —J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao— are scheduled to be tried in August. All three men are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.