US: Ex-officer sentenced to 22-and-a-half years

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Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, broke his silence to offer “condolences” to his family as Judge Peter Cahill sentenced him to 22 years and six months in prison.

The sentence marks 10 years above the 12.5-year guideline for second-degree unintentional murder, due to aggravating factors. Cahill said he wasn’t going to be “profound” in the court and instead pointed to a 22-page legal argument outlining the rationale for the determination.

It came after the court heard form Chauvin for the first time, as well as four members of the Floyd family.

“I want to give my condolences to 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 peace of mind,” Chauvin said.

Defence attorney Eric Nelson said whatever sentence Cahill decides, half will believe it’s too lenient and half too draconian or overbearing as the case became the epicentre of a culture war and political divide. “It has weaved its way into nearly every facet of our lives, from the entertainment that we consume to the presidential politics,” he said. “From protests to conspiracy theories”.

Apart from Chauvin himself and Nelson, the only other person to speak on the ex-officer’s behalf was his mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, who said she feared dying before her favourite son is released from prison. “Derek has played over and over in his head the events of that day. I have seen the toll it has taken on him.”

For the family of Floyd, his daughter, two brothers and nephew delivered victim impact statements asking the judge for the maximum sentence without the possibility of parole, probation or time off for good behaviour.

“Although Chauvin will be sentenced today and spend time in prison, he will have the luxury of seeing his family again, talking to them, he will likely get to spend time with them upon his release,” nephew Brandon Williams said.

“George’s murder, this trial, and everything in between has been tragically devastating, our family is forever broken and one thing we cannot get back is George Floyd.”

Hours before sentencing, the court ruled against the defence team’s request for a new trial or for a hearing on jury misconduct.

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April following an emotional and tense trial in Minneapolis. (The Independent, UK)

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