Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Black Minneapolis man George Floyd, has officially been sentenced.
Chauvin, 45, has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in jail for the murder of George Floyd, a death that set off the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests against the systemic injustice towards Black people across America and the world.
According to the ABC, under the Minneapolis state guidelines, a sentence for a charge like this would normally be 12 and a half years. Prosecutors had hoped for 30 years, arguing that Chauvin’s actions “shocked the nation’s conscience”.
Judge Peter Cahill said he made the decision not based on “emotion or sympathy”, but due to Chauvin’s “abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty” towards Floyd.
Speaking in court, Terrence Floyd, one of Floyd’s brothers, said: “We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We’ve been through that already.”
In a video played to the court, Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter Gianna said to her late father: “I miss you and I love you.”
Speaking to the Floyd family present in the hearing, Chauvin turned to them and said, “I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. 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.”
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, who appeared in court to plead for mercy for her son, said that he had been unfairly labelled “an aggressive, heartless and uncaring person.”
“I can tell you that is far from the truth.”
The defence requested probation on the basis that Chauvin was the product of a “broken” system and “believed he was doing his job.” This means that with good behaviour, Chauvin could be paroled after serving two-thirds of his sentence, which would be 15 years.
U.S. President Joe Biden said that while he “[didn’t] know all the circumstances that were considered” in the case, “to me, under the guidelines, that [sentencing] seems to be appropriate.”
George Floyd was a 46-year-old Black Minneapolis man who died in May 2020 after he was arrested on the suspicion of using a counterfeit $US20 bill at a corner store. When approached by police officer Derek Chauvin and his unit, Floyd panicked, said he was claustrophobic and allegedly struggled with police when they tried to put him in the car.
In footage taken at the scene and that quickly went viral, Chauvin was seen pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for what authorities said was nine and a half minutes, and despite Floyd already being in handcuffs. In the video, Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe.” Those horrific last few words were heard by people around the world and what inspired millions to take to the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic and join the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests against police and the systemic injustice and oppression towards Black people.
In April, Chauvin was found guilty of Floyd’s murder, specifically on second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. While it does mark an important step in achieving justice for Black people, it does not mean that the issue of systemic injustice towards them has been resolved. There are still countless cases of Black incarceration by law enforcement officers and the justice system left unaccounted for. Even here in Australia, our First Nations peoples make up a large sum of our prison population, despite being a minority in the greater Australian society, and are still unfairly treated by the judicial system.