Former police officer Derek Chauvin has been jailed for 22-and-a-half years for the murder of George Floyd.
The sentence, which fell short of the 30 years that prosecutors had requested, came after Floyd’s daughter gave a heartbreaking tribute to her father in front of an emotionless Chauvin.
Judge Peter Cahill said the sentence was “not based on emotion or sympathy” but wanted to acknowledge the “deep pain” families were feeling, especially the Floyd family.
“I’m not attempting to be profound or clever it’s not an appropriate time or to send any messages. I need to apply the law.”
He handed down an additional 10 years to Chauvin for abusing his position.
With good behaviour, Chauvin, 45, could be paroled after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years.
Outside the courthouse the reaction was subdued as people debated whether the sentence was long enough. Some cursed in disgust.
“Let us not feel that we’re here to celebrate,” said civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton. “Justice would have been George Floyd never having been killed. Justice would have been the maximum. We got more than we thought only because we have been disappointed so many times before.”
Members of the Floyd family demanded the maximum jail time in emotional victim impact statements but one of their lawyers Ben Crump called it a “historic” sentence.
Before sentencing, Gianna Floyd, George’s seven-year-old daughter, spoke in a heartbreaking video link about her father.
Asked what she misses most about her daddy, she said: “Well I ask about him all the time. I’m asking how did my dad get hurt?”
Asked if she wishes Mr Floyd was still here with us, she replied: “Yeh, but he is [in his spirit].
“I want to play with him and have fun go on a plane ride and that’s it. My daddy used to always help me brush my teeth [before bed]. I miss him because the mean people did something to him.”
Asked what she would say to her father if she could speak to him, she said: “I miss him and I love him.”
Shockingly Derek Chauvin removed his mask for the first time to speak to the Floyd family alluding to new “information in the future” that would interest them.
He said: “Um.. at this time due to some additional legal matters at hand I’m not able to give a full formal statement at this time. Briefly though I 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. Thank you.”
Brandon Floyd, George’s nephew, asked the judge on behalf of his family for the maximum sentence for Chauvin who sat in a dock in a grey suit and face mask.
Through tears Terrence Floyd, George’s brother said: “I’m here representing my brother, I’m from New York. On May 25 2020 my brother was murdered everyone knows by Derek Chauvin. This situation has affected me and my family. Any family member that has been through this has a fraternity you cannot enjoy.
Addressing Chauvin directly, he said: “Over the last months I talked to a few people and 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. When he wasn’t a threat no more, he was handcuffed yet you stayed there.”
George’s other brother Philonise Floyd, wiping away tears from behind his glasses, said: “I haven’t had a decent night sleep because of the nightmares hearing my brother beg and plead for his life over and over again. He screamed for my mum. I have had to relive George being tortured to death every hour of every day... Most of all my niece Gianna needs closure.”
Derek Chauvin’s mother Carolyn, protested her son’s innocence, saying: “My son’s identity has been reduced to a racist.
“I want this court to know that none of these things are true and my son is a good man. Derek dedicated his life to the police department. He is a quiet, thoughtful, honourable and selfless man. He has a big heart. The public will never know what a caring, loving man he is but his family do.
“When he is released his father and I most likely will not be here. Derek my happiest moment is when I gave birth to you, my second is when I was honoured to pin your police badge on you.
“I remember you whispering to me ‘Don’t stick me with it’. I will always believe in your innocence. Remember you are my favourite son.”
Mr Floyd’s death caused uproar worldwide after harrowing footage showed Chauvin with his knee pressed on the late Mr Floyd’s neck as he lay handcuffed and restrained on the ground.
Devastating moments captured on camera revealed Mr Floyd gasping “I can’t breathe” before losing consciousness as Chauvin knelt on his neck, his trial heard, for nine minutes.
It comes months after Chauvin become the first white police officer in Minnesota ever to be convicted of killing a black man.
The sentence was handed down for the most serious charge of second-degree murder.
Everyone around the world was watching when Chauvin was first convicted of second and third degree murder and manslaughter.
Mr Floyd’s family welcomed the verdict at the time as a step towards justice.
The maximum penalty behind bars for second-degree unintentional murder is 40 years jail time under Minnesota law.
Sentencing guidelines advise someone with no previous convictions could spend time 10 to 15 years behind bars.
Judge Peter Cahill, however, agreed with prosecutors there should be a harsher sentence handed down.
Chauvin’s abuse of position of authority and the presence of children were factors that had to come into consideration, the judge said.
Also the judge said the use of prolonged restraint was “particularly egregious”, especially given Mr Floyd’s protest that he couldn’t breathe.
In his submission to court, Chauvin lawyer asked he was sentenced to the time he has already served behind bars and probation.
He has the right to address the court before sentencing. Chauvin chose not to testify during the trial.
Three other officers face charges over Mr Floyd’s death. Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are expected to go on trial in August.