5 Takeaways from Derek Chauvin's Sentencing Hearing

5 months ago 29
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June 25, 2021, 7:18 p.m. ET

June 25, 2021, 7:18 p.m. ET

  1. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
  2. Christian Monterrosa/Associated Press
  3. Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times
  4. Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times
  5. Christian Monterrosa/Associated Press
  6. Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times
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After an extraordinary sequence of emotional testimony in a Minneapolis courtroom on Friday, a judge sentenced Derek Chauvin, a former police officer, to 22 and a half years in prison for murdering George Floyd while on duty by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes as he pleaded for air.

The sentence came more than two months after Mr. Chauvin’s trial concluded with a guilty verdict on all three counts, which included the most serious charge of second-degree murder, as well as third-degree murder and manslaughter. But the courtroom drama continued on Friday with powerful testimony from both sides.

Here’s what happened:

  • Prosecutors played a video of Gianna Floyd, the 7-year-old daughter of Mr. Floyd, in which she said she missed her father and wanted to play with him. “We used to have dinner every single night before we went to bed,” Gianna said in the video. “My daddy always used to help me brush my teeth.” She said she knew that while her father was gone, his spirit was still with her.

  • Mr. Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, spoke publicly for the first time, urging the judge to be lenient. She said her son was a good man who had been falsely portrayed as racist, and that his family knew him to be “loving and caring.” At one point, Ms. Pawlenty turned to speak directly to her son, saying her happiest moment was when she gave birth to him, and that her second was when she pinned his police badge on his uniform.

  • Turning to face Mr. Floyd’s relatives in the courtroom, Mr. Chauvin said, “I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” but said he could not say more because he was still facing federal charges in Mr. Floyd’s death. Mr. Chauvin also added, somewhat cryptically: “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.” As brief as his comments were, they were his most extensive since Mr. Floyd’s death in May 2020; he had chosen not to testify at his trial.

  • After the sentence, Mr. Floyd’s relatives, who had earlier urged for the maximum sentence of 40 years, said it should have been longer, but that they were grateful Mr. Chauvin was facing a measure of accountability. “Truth be told, I don’t think any sentence would be enough, said Shareeduh Tate, a cousin of Mr. Floyd’s who had attended the trial in April. She and other family members, as well as a family lawyer, Ben Crump, said they hoped the federal charges would lengthen Mr. Chauvin’s time in prison.

  • Judge Peter A. Cahill issued a 22-page memorandum in which he said that two aggravating factors — that Mr. Chauvin had acted with particular cruelty and that he had abused his position of authority — led him to issue a longer sentence than the presumptive sentence for second-degree unintentional murder. Mr. Chauvin “objectively remained indifferent,” Judge Cahill wrote, while “Mr. Floyd was begging for his life and was obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die.” Prosecutors had asked Judge Cahill to issue a sentence of 30 years in prison, while Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer asked for probation and no prison sentence.

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