Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

Hennepin County, Minnesota Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over Chauvin’s April, 2021 trial, announced the sentence Friday afternoon.  Chauvin has been incarcerated since his conviction.  He opted at the time to have Judge Cahill determine his sentence, rather than the jury.

The 22-page sentencing order accompanying the sentencing specifies that Chauvin will receive credit for 199 days he’s already served behind bars.

Chauvin was sentenced for the more serious of his three convictions, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, the maximum sentence for which could have been up to 40 years.

In a statement released by their attorney after the sentencing, Floyd’s family wrote, in part, “This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability. For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account.”  The statement adds, “Those who raised their voices to demand justice for George Floyd need to know that their activism made a difference.”

The sequestered jury of six white people and six people who are Black or multiracial found Chauvin guilty on April 20 on each of the three charges he faced in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.  The jury deliberated a total of ten-and-a-half hours before informing Judge Cahill that they’d reached a verdict.

To secure convictions on the charges, prosecutors had to convince the jury that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and that his use of force was unreasonable.  The jury could have found Chauvin guilty of all of the charges, some of them, or none.

Floyd, 46, died while under arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a Minneapolis, Minnesota convenience store.  After handcuffing Floyd’s hands behind his back, Chauvin placed Floyd face-down on the ground and knelt on his neck for nine-and-a-half minutes, as Floyd repeatedly protested that he couldn’t breathe and then died.  Floyd’s death sparked protests across America and around the world and ignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng andThomas Lane — were fired the day after Floyd’s death.  Chauvin was arrested May 29 and ultimately charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with the third-degree murder charge reinstated just before Chauvin’s trial began.  The three other former officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and face trial later this year. 

All four former officers were also indicted May 7, 2021 on federal civil rights charges that allege they deprived Floyd of his civil rights when they saw him lying on the ground “in clear need” of medical care during his arrest, but “willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm.”  They face separate trials on those charges.

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