Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who killed George Floyd, was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison.
Prosecutors had requested a 30-year prison sentence against this 45-year-old man who, on May 25, 2020, asphyxiated the African-Americans in Minneapolis and unleashed an anti-racist mobilization unprecedented in the United States.
The United States Justice confirmed that former police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted of the murder of African-American George Floyd, was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison for a crime that shook the American nation.
Sentencing in a Minneapolis court, Judge Peter Cahill said sentencing was not based on emotion or sympathy. He added in a short speech that they were not based on public opinion, but on the law and the specific facts of the case.
Prosecutors had requested a 30-year prison sentence against this 45-year-old man who, on May 25, 2020, suffocated the African-American under his knee in Minneapolis and unleashed an unprecedented anti-racist mobilization in the United States and other parts of the world.
"He committed a brutal murder," "traumatized" those close to him, and "shocked the conscience of the nation," prosecutors said in documents transmitted prior to the hearing.
Some people gathered outside the courthouse in Minneapolis, where the soldiers deployed during the eight-week trial were absent. Minnesota state law establishes a minimum sentence of 12 1/2 years in prison for Chauvin, who has been incarcerated since he was convicted of murder on April 20.
But Judge Peter Cahill identified aggravating circumstances that could indicate a much harsher sentence. The magistrate considered that Chauvin had "abused his position of trust and authority," that he had treated Floyd with "special cruelty" towards minors, and that "He committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other people in uniform."
Before announcing his decision, he heard one last time from Floyd's family. Chauvin also had the opportunity to express his views: "I would like to express my condolences to the Floyd family. More information will be of interest in the future, and I hope things give you some peace of mind. "
At the same time, Judge Cahill rejected on Friday a request presented by the defense for a new trial due to doubts about some jury members' impartiality, considering that he "could not prove" his accusations.
Exactly 13 months ago, Chauvin and three accomplices arrested Floyd, 46, on suspicion of passing a fake $ 20 bill at a MoneyPolis store. He was handcuffed and tied to the floor in the middle of the street.
Chauvin then leaned on Floyd's neck for about ten minutes.
The scene, filmed with a cell phone and uploaded to the networks by a young woman, quickly went viral and triggered demonstrations in different parts of the world.
In this context, the Chauvin trial has been closely followed since March by millions of people across the country.
For weeks, the crime scene was reviewed from all angles. The testimonies of the witnesses and the parties were heard, and an unprecedented number of policemen paraded through the courtroom, mostly to denounce the attitude of their former colleagues.
For his part, the former policeman's lawyer, Eric Nelson, insisted that Chauvin had followed the police procedures in force at the time and that Floyd's death was due to health problems aggravated by drug use.
The jury did not believe him, and it took him less than ten hours to prove his guilt. His decision was greeted with relief across the country, as many feared that an acquittal would lead to worse riots with the exoneration, once again, of a white police officer.
But Nelson did not change his defense strategy, saying his client had made a "mistake in good faith" and asked for a reduced sentence in advance. The client can be released immediately.
He also warned of the danger that his client, who was imprisoned after the verdict was announced in a high-ranking security establishment, would be killed in prison. The defense has already announced that it will file an appeal.
The case does not end with Chauvin: his three former colleagues will be tried in March 2022 on charges of conspiracy in murder by the Minnesota justice. In parallel, the four men also face federal charges for violating Floyd's constitutional rights. No date has been set for the trial.