Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who killed George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis last year, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Friday.
Chauvin was found guilty in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
The former police officer is seen in a video of the arrest kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, persisting even after he became unconscious.
Chauvin spoke briefly during his sentencing hearing on Friday: “I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said.
“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,” he added before he was sentenced.
Just ahead of the hearing, Chauvin’s post-verdict motion for a new trial was denied by Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill.
Cahill ruled on Thursday night that Chauvin “failed to demonstrate … the Court abused its discretion or committed error such that Defendant was deprived of his constitutional right to a fair trial.”
The judge said that Chauvin failed to demonstrate prosecutorial or juror misconduct.
Chauvin’s attorneys had argued that “errors, abuses of discretion, prosecutorial and jury misconduct” made the trial unfair.
Prosecutors for the state of Minnesota had requested a 30-year prison sentence, saying in a sentencing memo that it “would properly account for the profound impact of Defendant’s conduct on the victim, the victim’s family, and the community.”
State prosecutors asked for a tougher sentence than Minnesota guidelines prescribe, citing five aggravating factors.
Cahill ruled that four of the five factors were proven beyond a reasonable doubt: Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority; he treated Floyd with particular cruelty; children were president during the offense; and Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other people.
Meanwhile, Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, had instead requested that the former office receive probation and time served, or a sentence less than what the law recommends.
“Mr. Chauvin asks the Court to look beyond its findings, to his background, his lack of criminal history, his amenability to probation, to the unusual facts of this case, and to his being a product of a ‘broken’ system,” Nelson wrote in a filing.
During the sentencing hearing on Friday, Floyd’s family asked the court for the maximum sentence for Chauvin.
“On behalf of me and my family, we seek the maximum penalty,” said Terrence Floyd, the brother of George Floyd. “We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We’ve been through that already… no, no, no, no.”
“If it was us, if the roles was reversed, there wouldn’t be no case,” he added. “It would have been open and shut. We’d have been under the jail for murdering somebody. So, we ask for that same penalty for Derek Chauvin.”
Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said that he has “had to sit through each day of officer Derek Chauvin’s trial and watch the video of George dying for hours, over and over again.”
“For an entire year, I had to relive George being tortured to death every hour of the day, only taking naps and not knowing what a good night’s sleep is anymore,” he said.
Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, said in a statement that the sentence “shows that matters of police brutality are finally being taken seriously.”
“However, we have a long way to go and many changes to make before black and brown people finally feel like they are being treated fairly and humanely by law enforcement in this country,” she added.
After the sentencing, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said he hopes “this moment gives us pause and allows us to rededicate ourselves to the real societal change that will move us much further along the road to justice.”
He said the outcome is “critically important. But by itself, it’s not enough.”
Ellison called for the passage of The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is currently stalled in Congress.