United States: Derek Chauvin sentenced for George Floyd's murder

June 26, 2021
Mural remembering George Floyd. Image: Image by F Muhammad/Pixabay

Derek Chavin was sentenced to 22.5 years in a Minnesota prison on June 25, for the murder of George Floyd a year ago.

The ex-cop said he was sorry for his actions — he knelt for 9 minutes and 29 seconds on Floyd’s neck on May 25 last year.

“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said, briefly glancing back toward Floyd’s siblings and nephew.

Family speaks

Four members of Floyd’s family spoke before the judge issued the sentence — which was not the maximum possible — for his crime. They said it was not justice, but some accountability for his murder.

They said they hope the sentence sends a message to the criminal justice system and police that cops who brutalise and kill Black men will be brought to heel.

Floyd's 7-year-old daughter Gianna expressed the trauma and impact of her loss in a video played before the court. "I ask about him all the time," she said. "How did my dad get hurt?"

Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, asked the judge to sentence Chauvin to the maximum punishment. “Although Chauvin will be sentenced today and spend time in prison, he will have the luxury of seeing his family again, talking to them,” Williams told the court.

Philonise Floyd, George’s younger brother —  who testified at the trial and has become the public face of the family’s push for justice — told the court of his anguish at having to relive his brother’s death again and again and the nightmares he regularly has.

“I have had to sit through each day of Derek Chauvin’s trial and watch the video of George dying for hours, over and over again, for an entire year,” he said. “I had to relive George being tortured to death every hour of the day … not knowing what a good night’s sleep is.”

George’s brother Terrence asked Chauvin what was going through his head that fateful day. "Over this last year and months, I actually 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?"

Terrence said his brother was handcuffed and couldn't get up. 

"Why did you stay there?" he asked.

Terrence Floyd and other family members also asked Judge Peter Cahill to give Chauvin the maximum sentence possible.

"We don't want any more slaps on the wrist," Terrence said. "We've seen enough. For an entire year I had to relive George being tortured to death."

What next?

Chauvin will appeal and seek a retrial — which the judge rejected. He still has strong support from other police officers. Furthermore, many modest police reforms are being rejected or modified — even by liberals who reject the demands to defund militarised policing.

The Floyd family is now part of a fraternity of families of men and women murdered by cops. They see themselves as part of the movement for social justice.

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