Biden says Derek Chauvin’s 22.5-year sentence for murdering George Floyd ‘seems to be appropriate’
- President was in the Oval Office with the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, when he was told the news
- ‘I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered, but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate,’ he said
- Biden formed a close relationship with the Floyd family and invited them to the White House last month
- He also injected himself into the trial when he said he was ‘praying the verdict is the right verdict’
- Judge Peter Cahill handed the sentence of 270 months on Friday. He will be up eligible for parole in 15 years
President Joe Biden said on Friday that Derek Chauvin’s 22-and-a-half year sentence for murdering George Floyd ‘seemed appropriate’
President Joe Biden said on Friday that Derek Chauvin’s 22-and-a-half year sentence for murdering George Floyd ‘seemed appropriate’.
The president was in the Oval Office with the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, when reporters told him the jail term the ex-cop had been given in Minneapolis.
‘I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered, but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate,’ he said.
He also said that was the first he had heard of the reports. Biden formed a close relationship with the Floyd family and invited them to the White House last month to discuss the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
The president also injected himself into the trial in the spring when he said he was ‘praying the verdict is the right verdict.’
‘It’s overwhelming, in my view,’ Biden said of the sentence in the trial at the time. ‘I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered.
Judge Peter Cahill handed down the sentence of 270 months on Friday and granted Chauvin 199 days already served. He will be eligible for parole after 15 years and could be released on good behavior, which many demonstrators chanting outside the Minneapolis courtroom say isn’t enough.
‘This is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd,’ Judge Cahill said to the disgraced former cop. ‘I’m not basing my sentencing on public opinion, I’m not basing it on any attempt to send any messages.’
Cahill also addressed Floyd’s family, who had spoken out in emotional victim impact statements, telling them that ‘I acknowledge and hear the pain that you’re feeling.’
In addition to jail time, Chauvin is also prohibited from possessing a gun, ammunition, or explosives for the remainder of his life and must also register as a predatory offender. As a first-time offender, Chauvin had potentially faced 12 and a half years in prison, but most serious charge that Chauvin was convicted of – second-degree murder – carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
The president was in the Oval Office with the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, when reporters told him the jail term the ex-cop had been given in Minneapolis. ‘I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered, but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate,’ he said.
The former Minneapolis officer, dressed in a gray suit and tie with a buzz cut, was found guilty in April on all three counts – second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter – for kneeling on 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for nine minutes in May 2020.
In his sentencing memo, Judge Cahill wrote, ‘Mr. Chauvin, rather than pursuing the MPD mission, treated Mr. Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings and which he certainly would have extended to a friend or neighbor.’
The sentencing came after Chauvin spoke briefly to offer the Floyd family his condolences.
Chauvin said he could not give a full statement because of additional legal matters, but said, ‘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. Thank you.’
There are still two federal indictments pending against Chauvin – one for violating Floyd’s civil rights during the arrest that led to his death and one for assaulting a 14-year-old with a flashlight.
Chauvin spoke after four heartbreaking victim impact statements from George Floyd’s family, including Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter Gianna Floyd, his nephew Brandon Williams, and brothers Terrence Floyd and Philonise Floyd.
Derek Chauvin, 45, was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison on Friday for the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin spoke briefly at his sentencing Friday to offer the Floyd family his condolences
He also said that was the first he had heard of the reports. Biden formed a close relationship with the Floyd family and invited them to the White House last month to discuss the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
‘This is based on your abuse of your position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd,’ Judge Cahill said as he handed down the sentencing
Chauvin, seen in a gray suit, gray tie and sporting a buzz cut walk out of the Minnesota court room moments after being sentenced to 22.5 years in prison
Chauvin will be eligible for parole after 15 years and could be released on good behavior, which many demonstrators chanting outside of the Minneapolis courtroom say isn’t enough
Black Lives Matter activists and supporters rally outside Hennepin County District Court where a judge sentenced former police officer Chauvin
‘I miss you and I love you.’ George Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter gives heartbreaking victim impact statement – as his brothers and nephew tearfully say ‘Our family is forever broken’
Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter Gianna gave a heartbreaking victim impact statement.
‘I ask about him all the time,’ Gianna Floyd said via video. ‘I was asking how did my dad get hurt. I want to play with him, have fun, go to the playground’
Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on the neck of the 46-year-old Floyd (pictured) – suspected of using a counterfeit bill – for more than nine minutes until he passed out and died on May 25, 2020, while ignoring the victim’s pleas for air and help
When asked what she would tell her father if she could see him again, Gianna responded, ‘It would be I miss you and I love you.’
Three other members of Floyd’s family, including his nephew Brandon Williams and brothers Terrence Floyd and Philonise Floyd, gave poignant victim impact statements in the courtroom Friday.
‘Immediately my life changed forever,’ Philonise said while wiping away tears. ‘I’ve been lifting my voice so that George’s life is not in vain. George’s life mattered.
‘I haven’t had a real night’s sleep because of the nightmares I constantly have, hearing my brother beg and plead for his life over and over again. Even saying, ‘They’re going to kill me, please, officer,’ screaming for our mom,’ he added in court today.
‘I have had to sit through each day of officer Derek Chauvin’s trial and watch the video of George dying for hours, over and over again. For an entire year, I had to relive George being tortured to death every hour of the day.’
Floyd’s brother Terrence tearfully gave his statement directed at Chauvin. ‘I want to know why. What were you thinking? What was gong through your head when you held your knee on my brother’s neck?’
‘On behalf of me and my family, we seek the maximum penalty,’ he said, ‘We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We’ve been through that already…no, no, no, no.’
‘If it was us, if the roles was reversed, there wouldn’t be no case,’ Terrence said. ‘It would have been open and shut. We’d have been under the jail for murdering somebody. So, we ask for that same penalty for Derek Chauvin.’
Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams said in court, ‘Chauvin killed George. Not only did he kill George but he also displayed a total lack of consideration for human life as he did so. You saw it. I saw it. And millions of people across the country and the globe witnessed the act of hate.
‘The sudden murder of George has forever traumatized us. You may see us cry, but the full extent of our pain and trauma will never be seen with the naked eye.’ Williams added. ‘The heartbreak and hurt goes far beyond any number of tears we could ever cry. Words simply cannot express the pain, anguish, and suffering that our family and friends have endured since George’s murder. It has been truly unimaginable.’
‘Our family is forever broken,’ Williams said.
His family asked the judge to deliver the maximum sentence to Chauvin, without the possibility of parole.
Floyd’s death sparked months of national protests over mistreatment of black Americans by police and a cultural reckoning by many. At the time of his conviction, cheers rose from the crowds that had gathered outside the courthouse and down at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, now known as George Floyd Square.
Before sentencing, four victim impact statements were read, including from Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter Gianna Floyd, who appeared via video. ‘I ask about him all the time,’ Gianna Floyd said via video. ‘I was asking how did my dad get hurt. I want to play with him, have fun, go to the playground’
‘Immediately my life changed forever,’ George’s brother Philonise Floyd said while wiping away tears. ‘For an entire year I had to relive George being murdered’
Floyd’s brother Terrence (left) tearfully gave his statement directed at Chauvin. ‘I want to know why? What were you thinking? What was gong through your head when you held your knee on my brother’s neck?’ His nephew Brandon Williams (right) said in his statement, ‘Chauvin killed George. Not only did he kill George but he also displayed a total lack of consideration for human life as he did so’
‘My son is a good man’: Derek Chauvin’s mother, 73, says she’ll ‘always be there for him’ as she begs judge for mercy at his sentencing hearing, pleading ‘you’ll be sentencing me too’
Chauvin’s mother begged the judge for mercy at his sentencing hearing on Friday, saying she’d be sentenced too and telling him he was her ‘favorite son’ whose innocence she never doubted.
Carolyn Pawlenty, 73, was emotional as she spoke at the courthouse in Minneapolis, looking at her 45-year-old son and telling him: ‘My happiest moment was giving birth to you.’
Her full remarks are below.
‘I am the mother of Derek Chauvin. I am here to speak on behalf of my entire family.
‘Not only did Derek’s life change forever but so did mine and my family’s. Derek devoted 19 years of his life to the Minneapolis Police Department.
‘It has been difficult for me to hear and read what the media, public and prosecution believe Derek to be an aggressively, heartless and uncaring person.
‘That is far from the truth. My son’ s identity has also been reduced to that of a racist. I want this court to know that none of these things are true. My son is a good man.
‘Derek always dedicated his life and time to the police department. Even on his days off, he’d call in to see if they needed help.
‘Derek is a quiet, thoughtful, honorable and selfless man. He has a big heart and has always put others before his own.
‘The public will never know the loving and caring man he is. But his family does.
‘Even though I have not spoken publicly, I have always supported him 100 percent and always will. Derek has played over and over in his head the events of that day.
‘I’ve seen the toll it has taken on him. I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me.
‘I will not be able to see Derek, talk to him on the phone or give him our special hug.
‘When he is released, his father and I most likely will not be here.
Carolyn Pawlenty, 73, was emotional as she spoke at the courthouse in Minneapolis, looking at her 45-year-old son and telling him: ‘My happiest moment was giving birth to you’
‘Derek, my happiest moment is when I gave birth to you. My second is when I was honored to pin your police badge on you. I remember you whispering to me, don’t stick me with it.
‘I want you to know I have always believed in your innocence and I will never waiver from that. I have read numerous letters from people around the world that also believe in your innocence.
‘No matter where you go, where you are I will always be there to visit you.
‘I promise you I will stay strong as we talked about and I want you to do the same for me.
‘I will do what you told me to do, take care of myself, so I will be here for you when you come home. Remember there is no stronger bond or love than a mother’s love.
‘One final thought I want you to remember – remember you are my favorite son. ‘Thank you for your time.’
Pawlenty, 73, addressed the judge then turned to her 45-year-old son and told him to ‘stay strong’
Just hours before the sentencing, Judge Cahill denied the defense’s motion for a new trial and said he will not hold a hearing into jury misconduct.
The defense had asked for probation and sought a retrial ahead of an expected appeal. Chauvin’s lawyer has argued that he was deprived of a fair trial because of prosecutorial and jury misconduct and errors of law at trial.
Chauvin’s legal team is likely to take their arguments to the Court of Appeals.
Dozens of witnesses were heard and hundreds of items of evidence were submitted during the weeks of testimony.
The April verdict, in a relatively swift, across-the-board victory for Floyd’s supporters – set off jubilation mixed with sorrow across the city and around the nation. Hundreds of people poured into the streets of Minneapolis, some running through traffic with banners. Drivers blared their horns in celebration.
Chauvin had been captured on video kneeling on the neck of the 46-year-old Floyd – suspected of using a counterfeit bill – for more than nine minutes until he passed out and died on May 25, 2020, while ignoring the victim’s pleas for air and help.
‘Today, we are able to breathe again,’ Floyd’s younger brother Philonise said at a joyous family news conference in April where tears streamed down his face as he likened Floyd to the 1955 Mississippi lynching victim Emmett Till, except that this time there were cameras around to show the world what happened.
The jury of six whites and six black or multiracial people came back with its verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days.
Rev. Al Sharpton, right, with hand on coat, along with family members of George Floyd leads a prayer before entering the Hennepin County Government Center for the sentencing
Chauvin was being held at Oak Park Heights the last eight weeks as he awaited sentencing. The prison, the state’s only maximum-security facility, built in 1982 and with a capacity for 473 male inmates, could be where Chauvin serves his sentence
This photo shows a cell in the Administrative Control Unit at the Oak Park Heights facility. This cell is similar to the one that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been in since he was found guilty in April
Prosecutors earlier this month asked Judge Cahill to sentence Chauvin to 30 years in prison, submitting court documents which called the actions of the cop an ‘egregious abuse’ of his position.
‘Defendant’s conduct was also particularly cruel,’ prosecutors said.
They recalled that the judge had ruled there were four aggravating factors in the case, allowing him to depart from state sentencing guidelines and clearing the path for a tough sentence.
As a first-time offender, Chauvin had potentially faced 12 and a half years in prison on that count under the guidelines, but the aggravating factors mean Cahill can opt for a longer jail term.
Attorneys for Chauvin countered with a far different request – a sentence of time served and probation, claiming that their client was guilty of ‘an error made in good faith.’
Last week prosecutors insisted Chauvin should not get a new trial for murdering Floyd after claiming his original hearing was fair and impartial.
They set out their arguments for keeping the April verdict intact in a court document filed Wednesday, claiming Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson’s calls for a second trial were without merit.
George Floyd was seen in a video pleading that he couldn’t breathe as white officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck
The court was shown these photos of the injuries Floyd sustained as he was pinned to the ground on May 25
Prosecutors repeatedly referenced this timeline of Floyd’s fatal arrest during the trial and showed it during the trial
The document continued: ‘This Court has rejected many of these arguments before, and there is no reason for a different result now. Defendant´s scattershot and unavailing attempts to overturn his conviction should be denied.
It continued: ‘Defendant was unanimously convicted on all three counts based on evidence of his overwhelming guilt. He now seeks to escape his lawful conviction by any means.’ The argument was presented to Judge Peter Cahill – who presided over Chauvin’s original trial at Hennepin Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It is unclear when he will rule on whether or not Chauvin should get a new trial.
The state’s document came in response to defense requests to grant Chauvin a new trial and to hold a hearing to question jurors about alleged misconduct. Among other things, defense attorney Eric Nelson said intense pretrial publicity, alleged prosecutorial misconduct and some decisions by the court made it impossible for Chauvin to get a fair trial.
Chauvin was being held at Oak Park Heights the last eight weeks as he awaited sentencing.
The prison, the state’s only maximum-security facility, built in 1982 and with a capacity for 473 male inmates, could be where Chauvin serves his sentence.
It is generally considered well run and comparatively secure, with only one murder within the walls in its almost 40 year history, and no one ever escaping.
Jordan and Royal Pacheco take a picture of their grandmother Evelyn at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s sentencing
Ahead of the sentencing, Minnesota AG Keith Ellison told 60 Minutes that despite his feelings of ‘gratitude’ and ‘satisfaction’ at seeing Chauvin convicted, he also felt sympathy for the cop.
‘I spent 16 years as a criminal defense lawyer. So, I will admit, I felt a little bad for the defendant. I think he deserved to be convicted. But he’s a human being,’ Ellison told Scott Pelley.
‘I’m not in any way wavering from my responsibility. But I hope we never forget that people who are defendants in our criminal justice system, that they’re human beings. They’re people. I mean, George Floyd was a human being. And so I’m not going to ever forget that everybody in this process is a person,’ the AG added.
Asked whether the judge should give the maximum sentence and send a ‘message,’ AG Ellison told CBS: ‘I think it is important for the Court to not go light or heavy. I don’t know if it’s right for a judge to send a message through a sentence because the sentence should be tailored to the offense, tailored to the circumstances of the case.
‘Look, the State never wanted revenge against Derek Chauvin. We just wanted accountability.’
The lawyer added that, despite the shocking video which was beamed around the world, he was never certain that Chauvin would be found guilty.
‘I was never convinced we were going to win this case until we heard the verdict of guilty. I remember what happened in the Rodney King case when I was a pretty young man, young lawyer,’ Ellison said.
Chauvin addresses Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on April 15
Chauvin was led out of the court in handcuffs after the verdict came down on April 20
The centerpiece of the case was the excruciating bystander video of Floyd gasping repeatedly, ‘I can´t breathe’ and onlookers yelling at Chauvin to stop as the officer pressed his knee on or close to Floyd´s neck for what authorities say was 9 1/2 minutes, including several minutes after Floyd’s breathing had stopped and he had no pulse.
Prosecutors played the footage at the earliest opportunity, during opening statements, and told the jury: ‘Believe your eyes.’ From there it was shown over and over, analyzed one frame at a time by witnesses on both sides.
In the wake of Floyd´s death, demonstrations and scattered violence broke out in Minneapolis, around the country and beyond. The furor also led to the removal of Confederate statues and other offensive symbols such as Aunt Jemima.
In the months that followed, numerous states and cities restricted the use of force by police, revamped disciplinary systems or subjected police departments to closer oversight.
The ‘Blue Wall of Silence’ that often protects police accused of wrongdoing crumbled after Floyd´s death. The Minneapolis police chief quickly called it ‘murder’ and fired all four officers, and the city reached a staggering $27 million settlement with Floyd´s family as jury selection was underway.
Police-procedure experts and law enforcement veterans inside and outside the Minneapolis department, including the chief, testified for the prosecution that Chauvin used excessive force and went against his training.
Medical experts for the prosecution said Floyd died of asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, because his breathing was constricted by the way he was held down on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind him, a knee on his neck and his face jammed against the ground.
Chauvin’s attorney called a police use-of-force expert and a forensic pathologist to try to make the case that Chauvin acted reasonably against a struggling suspect and that Floyd died because of a heart condition and his illegal drug use. Floyd had high blood pressure and narrowed arteries, and fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in his system.
Under the law, police have certain leeway to use force and are judged according to whether their actions were ‘reasonable’ under the circumstances.
People cheer outside the Cup Foods where Floyd died after Chauvin was found guilty in April
The defense also tried to make the case that Chauvin and the other officers were hindered in their duties by what they perceived as a growing, hostile crowd.
Chauvin did not testify, and all that the jury or the public ever heard by way of an explanation from him came from a police body-camera video after an ambulance had taken the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Floyd away. Chauvin told a bystander: ‘We gotta control this guy ´cause he´s a sizable guy … and it looks like he´s probably on something.’
The prosecution´s case also included tearful testimony from onlookers who said the police kept them back when they protested what was happening.
Eighteen-year-old Darnella Frazier, who shot the crucial video, said Chauvin gave the bystanders a ‘cold’ and ‘heartless’ stare. She and others said they felt a sense of helplessness and lingering guilt from witnessing Floyd´s slow-motion death.
‘It´s been nights I stayed up, apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life,’ she testified.
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