Ex-US cop sentenced to over 20yrs for George Floyd death

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd, was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on Thursday on federal charges.

Chauvin, who is white, pleaded guilty in December 2021 to violating the civil rights of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, during his May 2020 arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Chauvin is already serving a 22-and-a-half-year sentence after being convicted of state murder charges for Floyd’s death, which sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the United States.

The state and federal sentences are to run concurrently but the 46-year-old Chauvin will be allowed to serve his term in a federal prison rather than in a Minnesota state penitentiary, where he has been held in solitary confinement.

Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of 25 years. ‘He knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway,’ assistant US attorney LeeAnn Bell told the court.

‘I really don’t know why you did what you did,’ US District Court Judge Paul Magnuson said in delivering the sentence of 252 months with seven months off for time already served.

‘But to put your knee on another person’s neck until they’re deceased is wrong,’ Magnuson said. ‘You must be substantially punished.’

Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police force, was captured in a video that went viral kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, until he passed out and died.

Chauvin spoke briefly before the sentencing but did not apologize for his actions.

Addressing Floyd’s children, he said: ‘I just want to say that I wish them all the best in their life and have excellent guidance in becoming great adults.’

One of George Floyd’s brothers, Philonise Floyd, delivered a ‘victim impact’ statement and asked for a life sentence for Chauvin.

He said he suffered from nightmares because of his brother’s death.

Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, pleaded for leniency.

‘I believe it is God’s will for all of us to forgive,’ she told the court. ‘Everyone in Minnesota needs to heal and to know that all lives matter, no matter the color of your skin.’

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison welcomed the sentence and called it ‘another step of accountability on the road to justice.’

Ellison said it ‘sent a message to Minnesotans, all Americans, and law enforcement agencies around the country that crime like this will not be tolerated.’

Chauvin has appealed his Minnesota state murder conviction but his sentencing on the federal charges will ensure he will spend two decades in prison regardless of the outcome of his appeal.

Chauvin and three other police officers who were on the scene during Floyd’s fatal arrest -- Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane -- were charged with violating his constitutional rights and failing to respond to his medical needs.

Keung and Lane helped to restrain the handcuffed Floyd, while Thao kept away bystanders who were pleading with the officers to get off of Floyd as he lay handcuffed face down on the ground complaining he was unable to breathe.

Lane, who is white, pleaded guilty to state manslaughter charges and was convicted along with Thao, who is Hmong American, and Kueng, who is Black, of federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Thao and Kueng are to go on trial on the state manslaughter charges in late October.

Chauvin also pleaded guilty to violating the consitutional rights of a 14-year-old boy in a separate case.

In that 2017 incident, Chauvin held the handcuffed boy facedown on the ground and struck him on the head multiple times with a flashlight.

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