"What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck when you knew he posed no threat anymore?” Floyd's brother Terrence asked Chauvin before the sentencing.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of police brutality and murder that may be disturbing to readers.
A case of police brutality that sparked worldwide protests over a year ago has finally been closed. Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer from Minneapolis, was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison on Friday, June 25, for the murder of George Floyd, reports CNN. It fell a bit short of the 30 years that the prosecutors requested. Chauvin knelt on Floyd, a Black man, until he breathed his last at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis. His final moments were caught on video.
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin will have to serve two-thirds of his sentence or 15 years in prison, and only then will he be eligible for supervised release for the remaining seven and a half years.
NBC News reports that Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said Chauvin's sentence was not based on public opinion, "emotion or sympathy." He said he was not trying to "send any messages."
"This is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd," he told Chauvin. The judge said he also wanted to "acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family."
The sentencing began with statements from four of Floyd's family members: his 7-year-old daughter, Gianna Floyd; his brothers Terrence and Philonise Floyd; and his nephew Brandon Williams. According to The Washington Post, Gianna recalled how her daddy used to help her brush her teeth and play with her. “I miss him,” she said, adding she said she asks about her father "all the time."
"I want to play with him, have fun, go on a plane ride," the 7-year-old said. Philonise Floyd said that he has begged every day for justice to be served. "George's life mattered," he said. "I am asking that you please find it suitable to give Officer Chauvin the maximum sentence possible. My family and I have been given a life sentence."
Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, also asked the judge to sentence Chauvin to the maximum punishment. “Although Chauvin will be sentenced today and spend time in prison, he will have the luxury of seeing his family again, talking to them,” Williams told the court. The Floyd family had been “robbed” of that luxury, he said. “No more birthday parties, no graduations, holiday gatherings … No opportunities to simply say I love you.”
Though the family members were not allowed to address Chauvin directly, Floyd’s brother, Terrence asked Chauvin: “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck when you knew he posed no threat anymore?” Chauvin, who was fired from his job and convicted in April on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, spoke briefly before the sentence was announced.
"At this time due to some additional legal matters at hand, I'm not able to give a full, formal statement," Chauvin said. "I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. There's going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope things will give you some, some peace of mind."
However, before Chauvin spoke, his mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, appealed to Cahill for leniency for her son, whom she described as a “selfless” public servant who had always tried to help others, but had been depicted as an “aggressive, heartless and uncaring person … a racist,” by the media and prosecutors.
"Even though I have not spoken publicly, I have always supported him 100 percent and always will," she said.
Cover Image Source: Photo by Ramsey County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images