A Minnesota judge on Friday sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22½ years in prison for the murder of George Floyd, a Black man whose desperate gasps for air beneath the knee of the White officer captured on a viral video changed the American conversation on race and justice.
Chauvin, who was fired after the killing and convicted by a jury in April on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, had faced up to 40 years in prison.
In rendering his sentence, Hennepin County District Judge Peter A. Cahill, who oversaw Chauvin’s trial, offered brief remarks, saying it was not the time to be “profound or clever” from the bench. He said he had based the sentence on the facts of the case and not “public opinion.”
“The sentence is not based on his emotion or sympathy. But at the same time, I want to acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family,” Cahill said. “You have our sympathies, and I acknowledge and hear the pain that you’re feeling.”
The killing on May 25, 2020, captured on a gruesome Facebook video, shook the nation and forced a painful reckoning on issues of race and police brutality that continues to play out across a divided America.
Chauvin’s conviction, a rarity in a country roiled by multiple high-profile cases of Black people being killed by police, was praised by Floyd’s family and activists as a historic moment of justice and a potential sign of change.
Before the sentencing, Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter, Gianna, spoke in a small, singsong voice of how her daddy used to help her brush her teeth and play with her. “I miss him,” she said.