- Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison after he was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd
- Chauvin was found guilty in April on all three charges levelled against him, including second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder
- The sentence passed down did not go down well with everyone as some called it too lenient while others believe that justice prevailed
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The former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was on Friday handed a sentence of 22 and a half years in prison for the May 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA.
The killing sparked America's biggest demonstrations for racial justice in recent memory. Floyd had been arrested after a shopkeeper suspected him of using a counterfeit cash note to make a purchase.
Chauvin and three other police officers arrived on the scene shortly afterwards, before the former knelt on Floyd's neck and back during an arrest which lasted for a total of 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
In April, he was convicted on charges relating to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, for his role in Floyd's death. The other three officers implicated in the matter are still before the court.
Judge in the case adamant prison sentence is just, unbiased
The presiding officer in the case, Judge Peter Cahill, said he had written a 22-page memorandum as an attachment to the sentencing document, adding the conviction was not based on emotion or sympathy ... but, at the same time, an acknowledgement of the pain the families are feeling.
"This (jail term) is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd," said Cahill, who was speaking directly to an impassive Chauvin.
The decision was read out at the end of a tense hearing, according to an AFP report per EWN, in which the court watched a recorded message by Floyd's seven-year-old daughter and heard from Chauvin's mother.
In a message to the media and in a subsequent tweet, the Floyd family's lawyer Ben Crump called the sentencing a "historic" step towards racial reconciliation in the United States. He said:
"22 [and a half] years! It brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability."
Chauvin sentencing receives mixed reactions, some argue for stiffer term
Impact statements from members of Floyd's family, including his young daughter, Gianna, and his cousin, Brandon Williams, were read out as sentencing began.
Reading from a prepared speech, Williams described Chauvin's actions as "unimaginable". He said the guilty man will have the luxury of seeing his family again, something the Floyd family will never get to do."
The sentencing was long-awaited in Minnesota, after huge celebrations rang out across the world at Chauvin's guilty verdict two months before, with hundreds of people gathering near the court precinct well into the night on Friday.
Many argued 45-year-old Chauvin should have been given a much stiffer sentence of 30 or 40 years," according to News24. Chauvin was allowed to speak briefly, after declining to testify during his six-week trial.
"I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family. At this time, due to some additional legal matters at hand, I'm not able to give a full formal statement.
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," said Chauvin.
The scene of Floyd's last moments, filmed and uploaded by a female passer-by, quickly went viral, before spurring hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets across US states and elsewhere around the world, in a stern call for an end to racism and police brutality.
Chauvin found guilty of all 3 charges in George Floyd murder
Chauvin's guilty verdict was read on Wednesday, 21 April, at the Hennepin County court, after the jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours.
The jury of five men and seven women, Briefly News previously reported, deliberated for four hours on Monday, 19 April, and resumed on Tuesday morning, according to CNN.
Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges, namely, second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The judge read out the verdict in front of the courtroom noting that the jurors had found him guilty on all three charges and each agreed to the ruling.
This is reported to have been one of the most closely watched cases in the Black Lives Matter era. The maximum sentence for second-degree unintentional murder is 40 years in prison, for third-degree murder it is 25 years in prison and for second-degree manslaughter is 10 years in prison or R290 780.
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