Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted in April on three charges related to the murder of 46-year-old black man George Floyd, has been sentenced to 22.5 years in prison, minus time served.
The court heard victim impact statements from members of Floyd’s family, including his brother Terrence Floyd who addressed Chauvin directly, asking: “What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?” In addition, Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter Gianna appeared by video.
The court also heard from Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, who said it was difficult to hear and read how the media, public, and prosecution had portrayed her son. She described him as a “good man,” saying he had dedicated his life to the police department and urged a lighter sentence. Chauvin stood to offer “condolences” to the Floyd family but, citing other legal matters, did not make a full statement.
The former officer, who was expelled from the force one day after Floyd’s murder, would typically face a sentence of about 12 and a half years in prison for such a crime, given he is a first-time offender. However, prosecutors in the case requested a longer sentence due to aggravating factors, including abuse of authority as an officer and the fact that children were present to witness the crime. In addition, there remain two federal indictments pending against Chauvin, which could add to his prison sentence.
Ruling on the aggravating factors in May, Judge Cahill said Chauvin treated Floyd with “particular cruelty” by failing to deliver medical assistance. Noting the “prolonged nature of the asphyxiation,” he pointed out that Floyd had pleaded that he couldn’t breathe at least 27 times during the ordeal.
Nelson argued the state was unable to prove those aggravating factors existed at the time of Floyd’s death and cited “jury misconduct,” among other things, as a reason not to grant them. Earlier on Friday, Cahill denied motions by Nelson for a new trial and hearings to examine the claim of juror misconduct.
Nevertheless, media pundits are out for blood and revenge. CNN political commentator Van Jones called the sentencing of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd “very disappointing” and a “punch in the gut” after a judge delivered it in Minneapolis.
Reacting to the sentencing, the lawyer for the Floyd family, Ben Crump, tweeted the following.
22.5 YEARS! This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability.
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) June 25, 2021
Evidently, Ben Crump seeks national healing. However, one does have to ask an uncomfortable question. If Chauvin was Black and Floyd was White, would we have seen the same results? I think we know the answer to this question.
What seems to be missing whenever Floyd’s death or Chauvin’s verdict is discussed is one spectacular blatant truth. To date, there is no evidence, and none was presented at trial, that Floyd’s death was a result of a racist act. The AG for the state, Keith Ellison made this point on national television-““We don’t have any evidence that Derek Chauvin factored in George Floyd’s race as he did what he did.” Yet somehow news pundits, politicians, even the President of the United States continue to use Floyd’s death as a symbol and evidence of a structural institutional racism crisis in our country. So we are being gaslighted on a false premise and instructed to heal what exactly?
Perhaps what will need to be healed is deliberate division and racial tensions promoted by false propaganda…
We will need to accept the results of our justice system for now (appeals may be in the works), but there are many that still believe that the Chavin case was not justice, rather mob rule – see here, here, here, and here.
One wonders if justice was done or mere racial revenge. Unfortunately, the country has a long way to go before any healing can occur.