Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd in May of 2020, was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison on Friday. The sentencing decision was delivered by Hennepin Country District Court Judge Peter A. Cahill.
Chauvin, 45, will likely only serve 15 years of the 22-and-a-half-year sentence. After 15 years, he will be eligible to serve the rest of his sentence on supervised release according to Minnesota law.
In April, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin faced 40 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge. Because he had no criminal record, Minnesota guidelines recommended he be sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison. However, the prosecution argued for a sentencing of 30 years due to the incredible cruelty with which Chauvin treated Floyd and the undeniable trauma Chauvin inflicted on Floyd’s family, witnesses of the scene, and the community at large.
Chauvin is only the second Minnesota police officer to be put in prison for murdering on the job. Less than a dozen officers in the U.S. have ever served jailtime for killing on-duty.
The sentencing decision was met with frustration and disappointment from Floyd’s family and several activists. “We were served a life sentence,” Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams said after the decision was released, “We can’t get George back.”
Civil rights activist and founder of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton, who joined the Floyd family outside the courthouse Friday for a press conference, argued that justice had not been served. “This is the longest sentence they’ve ever given, but this is not justice. Justice is George Floyd would be alive. Justice is if they had done sentences like this before, maybe Chauvin would have thought he would have not gotten away with it,” Sharpton said, “One sentence does not solve a criminal justice problem.”
On Twitter, President and CEO of the NAACP Derrick Johnson responded to the sentencing with a similar sentiment. “While George Floyd’s murderer was held accountable in court, we know that no amount of jail time is going to bring Gianna Floyd’s father back,” Johnson wrote.
“Legislation is urgently needed to ensure that what happened to George Floyd over a year ago will not happen again a year from now and devastate another family. We need a federal standard in policing to protect the lives of those often targeted.”
Sources: New York Times 6/25/21; Feminist Majority Foundation 4/21/21; CNN 6/25/21; The Washington Post 6/21/21; Twitter 6/25/21