‘I can’t breathe’: Derek Chauvin sentenced to 21 years over George Floyd’s death

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted last year in the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, was sentenced to 21 years in prison on Thursday for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Before U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson announced the sentence, Chauvin addressed the court, saying that he wishes Floyd’s children “all the best in their life.”

Magnuson told the former police officer: “I really don’t know why you did what you did, but kneeling on someone until they expire is simply wrong, and for that you will be punished.”

Chauvin was sentenced to 252 months, but Magnuson subtracted seven months for the time Chauvin has already served since he was convicted in April 2021 of murdering Floyd.

The judge added that the former police officer “absolutely destroyed the lives” of the other three former officers involved in the case “by taking command of the scene.”

Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, asked for Chauvin to be given the maximum sentence during the hearing on Thursday.

“My brother was murdered in broad daylight with a knee to his neck for nine minutes,” he said. “George’s life matters.”

John Pope Jr., who was 14 years old when Chauvin hit him and knelt on his neck during an arrest in 2017, also gave a victim impact statement on Thursday, telling the court: “I feel like my joy has been taken away.”

As part of a plea deal, Chauvin admitted to using excessive force in the case.

Last year, Chauvin was found guilty of Floyd’s murder and manslaughter, nearly one year after kneeling on Floyd’s neck in an incident that sparked global protests against police brutality.

He was given a 22 1/2-year prison sentence in state court for those charges.

Chauvin, who was already serving that sentence in isolation at Minnesota’s maximum-security prison, will be transferred to federal prison and serve both terms concurrently.

With Thursday’s sentencing, he will serve a few more years in prison because of differences in parole eligibility between the state and federal systems.

In December, Chauvin agreed to a sentence of 20 to 25 years in pleading guilty to the separate federal civil rights charge stemming from Floyd’s killing.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Chauvin to the full 25 years, arguing that the former officer’s actions were “cold-blooded.” Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, requested a 20-year sentence.

In entering his plea, Chauvin admitted that he deprived Floyd of his civil rights by kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed — even as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”

… the other three officers

Earlier this year, the other three former officers who were at the scene of Floyd’s death — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao — were convicted of violating his civil rights by failing to render medical aid.

Kueng and Thao were also found guilty of failing to intervene with Chauvin. All three are awaiting sentencing in the federal civil rights case.

Lane also pleaded guilty in state court to aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter, and is due to be sentenced September 21.

Kueng and Thao turned down plea deals on the same charges and are due to be tried in state court in October.

Floyd’s killing sparked protests around the world against police brutality and racism, fueled by the Black Lives Matter movement.

While most of the demonstrations were peaceful, some turned violent as protesters clashed with police. (Yahoo News)

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