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Ex-Minnesota cop Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22.5 years for killing George Floyd

By
Zarrin Ahmed & Danielle Haynes
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22.5 years in prison for the killing of George Floyd. Photos courtesy Minnesota Department of Corrections
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22.5 years in prison for the killing of George Floyd. Photos courtesy Minnesota Department of Corrections

June 25 (UPI) -- A Minnesota judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to 270 months in prison Friday for killing George Floyd during an arrest more than a year ago.

The 22.5-year sentence was about half of the maximum 40 years he could have faced.

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A statement from the Floyd family and their attorneys, Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Chris Stewart, said the sentence brings the "nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability."

"Those who raised their voices to demand justice for George Floyd need to know that their activism made a difference. Not only were Chauvin and the City of Minneapolis held accountable, but cities and states across the country have passed meaningful reforms, including restrictions on chokeholds and better training and protocols. We need this sentence to usher in a new era of accountability that transforms how Black people are treated by police."

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Judge Peter Cahill's decision came after hearing victim impact statements from four of Floyd's relatives, including his 7-year-old daughter, Gianna. She told the judge she asks about her father "all the time."

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When asked what she would tell her father if she saw him again, she said, "It would be, I miss you and I love him."

Floyd's brothers, Terrence Floyd and Philonaise Floyd, and nephew Brandon Williams also spoke.

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"You may see us cry, but the full extent of our pain and trauma will never convey the pain we have suffered," Williams said. "George's murder, this trial and everything in between have been tragically devastating. Our family is forever broken, and one thing we cannot get back is George Floyd."

Prosecutors Matthew Frank asked for a 30-year prison sentence, longer than state guidelines, pointing to four aggravating factors. Chauvin's attorney argued he should receive either probation or a lesser sentence.

"This case wasn't about all police officers; it wasn't about policing. This case was about Derek Chauvin disregarding all that training he received and assaulting Mr. Floyd until he suffocated to death," Frank said. "I think torture is the right word."

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Chauvin's mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, also gave statements, asking for leniency.

Pawlenty said the idea that her son is racist and "an aggressive, heartless, uncaring person" is "far from the truth."

Chauvin offered his condolences to the Floyd family but said he was unable to give a full, formal statement "due to some additional legal matters at hand."

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Chauvin was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on the back of a subdued Floyd's neck for almost 10 minutes on May 25, 2020. The incident was recorded on video by witnesses and the footage was seen worldwide. Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin that he couldn't breathe.

Before the sentencing hearing, Cahill denied a defense motion asking for a new trial, as well as a request for a hearing on potential jury misconduct during trial.

Floyd's death touched off months of outrage and demonstrations in Minneapolis and across the United States to call attention to police brutality.

Cahill said four out of five aggravating factors brought forth by prosecutors were proven "beyond a reasonable doubt."

The aggravating factors are that Chauvin abused his authority, that he treated Floyd with particular cruelty, that children were present during the offense and that Chauvin and three other officers committed the crime as a group.

Those officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, will stand trial in March. They are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death.

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Kueng and Lane helped restrain Floyd, and Kueng knelt on his back while Lane held his legs down. Thao held back bystanders and kept them from intervening.

Protesters demand justice in police killing of George Floyd

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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