The sentence imposed on Derek Chauvin for suffocating the African-American is lower than the prosecutor’s request, which requested 30 years in prison
A sigh of relief, mixed with a bittersweet flavor, invaded the Minnesota courtroom on Friday where the conviction against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman who killed George Floyd, was announced. The almost ten minutes during which he coldly suffocated the African-American in the middle of the street on May 25 of last year and which unleashed a historic anti-racist mobilization in the United States will cost him 22 and a half years in prison. A somewhat insufficient penalty for the Prosecutor’s Office and the victim’s family, who had claimed 30 and 40 years, respectively.
“The sentence is not based on emotion or sympathy,” said Judge Peter Cahill in a short speech in which he made it clear that his decision was not based “on public opinion”, but on the law and specific facts. of the case. Minnesota law established a minimum sentence of 12 1/2 years in jail. However, the magistrate had already identified aggravating circumstances before his verdict that pointed to a greater sentence.
Cahill considered that the former agent, imprisoned in a maximum security prison since he was convicted of murder by a jury on April 20, “abused his position of trust and authority.” He also considered that he treated Floyd with “special cruelty” towards minors and “committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three others” in uniform.
The victim’s family had appeared minutes before before the judge to ask for the “maximum penalty” of 40 years in prison. “Why? What was he thinking when he knelt on my brother’s neck knowing that he was not a threat? “Asked his brother Terrence to Chauvin, who for the first time broke his silence to offer his” condolences. ”
Despite the fact that the ruling was less than what they had asked for, Floyd’s family attorney, Ben Crump, called it a “historic” step. “It takes our nation one step closer to reconciliation by allowing the page to turn and by appointing those responsible,” he said. The president of the USA, Joe Biden, also reacted immediately when affirming that the sentence “seemed to be appropriate”, although it admitted that it did not know the details.
Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had requested a sentence reduced to the time already served by his client, considering that he followed current procedures and that Floyd’s death was due to health problems aggravated by drug use. The sentence assumes that he will file an appeal after alleging three months ago that the former officer was deprived of a fair trial.
The case, by no means, ends here. The three former colleagues of Chauvin will be tried in March of next year on charges of complicity in murder by the Minnesota Justice. All four also face federal crimes for violating Floyd’s constitutional rights.