George Floyd: Family says Derek Chauvin's 22 and a half-year sentence not enough
Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry
Some of George Floyd’s family have called Derek Chauvin’s jail term insufficient after the former police officer was sentenced to 22 and a half years on Friday.
One of Floyd’s brothers, Rodney Floyd, called the sentence a “slap on the wrist.” “We’ve suffered a life sentence for not having him in our life, and that hurts me to death,” he said.Nephew Brandon Williams said the sentence wasn’t harsh enough. “When you think about George being murdered, in cold blood with a knee on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, execution style in broad daylight, 22 and a half years is not enough,” Williams said. “We were served a life sentence. We can’t get George back.”
Meanwhile, Bridgett Floyd, George Floyd’s sister and founder of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, said the sentence “shows that matters of police brutality are finally being taken seriously.”
“We have a long way to go and many changes to make before black and brown people finally feel like they are being treated fairly and humanely by law enforcement in this country,” Bridgett said in a statement released Friday.
The former police officer was found guilty of killing Mr Floyd following the conclusion of a trial around two months ago, less than a year after he knelt on his neck outside a convenience store in May 2020 for nine-and-a-half minutes.
Chauvin, who didn't speak during the entirety of the trial, spoke to offer condolences to Mr Floyd’s family and said, without elaborating, he hopes more will come out in the future to give them “some peace of mind.”
With good behaviour, Chauvin, 45, could be paroled after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years.
Judge Peter Cahill went beyond the 12-and-a-half-year sentence prescribed under state guidelines, citing “abuse of a position of trust... and also the particular cruelty” shown to Mr Floyd.
Chauvin was immediately led back to prison.
As with the verdicts in April, he showed little emotion when the judge delivered the sentence. His eyes moved rapidly around the courtroom, his mask obscuring much of his face.
Outside the courthouse, a crowd of around 50 people placed their hands on each other’s shoulders.
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The reaction was subdued as people debated whether the sentence was long enough. Some cursed in disgust. “Let us not feel that we’re here to celebrate,” said civil rights leader the Reverend Al Sharpton.
“Justice would have been George Floyd never having been killed. Justice would have been the maximum. We got more than we thought only because we have been disappointed so many times before.”
The court - including Chauvin - earlier heard Mr Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter say she wishes she could tell her late father that “I miss you and I love you.”
Gianna Floyd’s video interview was played in court, where she said in the victim impact statement that she believed her dad was still with her in spirit and that she wants to know how he got hurt.
“We used to have dinner meals every single night before we went to bed,” she said. “My daddy always used to help me brush my teeth.”
She had a long list of things she would still have liked to do with her father. “I want to play with him, have fun, go on a plane ride.”
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A maximum sentence of 40 years was the most that could be applied to Chauvin, but legal observers believed this to be unlikely from the outset.
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, took the stand to plead for mercy for son, saying his reputation has been unfairly reduced to that of “an aggressive, heartless and uncaring person” and a racist.
“I can tell you that is far from the truth,” she told the judge, speaking publicly for the first time.
“I want this court to know that none of these things are true and that my son is a good man.”
She added: “Derek, I want you to know I have always believed in your innocence, and I will never waver from that.”
“I will be here for you when you come home,” she said.
Before he was sentenced, Chauvin removed his mask and turned toward the Floyd family, speaking only briefly because of what he called “some additional legal matters at hand” - an apparent reference to the federal civil rights trial he still faces.
“But very briefly, though, 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,” he said, without giving anymore information.
Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts of second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter.
Prosecutors filed suggesting a 30-year custodial sentence, while Chauvin's defence team have called for him to be given probation, although this was deemed highly unlikely.
Despite two other guilty charges - for murder in third degree and manslaughter in second degree - Chauvin was sentenced only for the most serious charge, murder in second degree.
Hennepin county judge Peter Cahill was the man who ultimately decided the fate of Chauvin.
Mr Cahill presided over the trial and the experienced judge was required to weigh up the severity of the crime and the other aggravating factors involved in Mr Floyd's death.
The concrete barricades, razor wire and National Guard patrols at the courthouse during Chauvin’s three-week trial in the spring were gone on Friday, reflecting an easing of tensions since the verdict in April.
Still, there was recognition that the sentencing was another major step forward for Minneapolis since Mr Floyd was killed.
Watch Derek Chauvin's sentencing in full: