Derek Chauvin sentenced to just over 20 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s federal civil rights

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin speaks in a still from video before his sentencing hearing and the judge while awaiting his verdict after being charged with murder in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 25 June 2021.

Pool via Reuters

Derek Chauvin was sentenced to just over 20 years in prison on Thursday, nearly seven months after pleading guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights by kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes while holding him in May 2020.

Federal prosecutors had asked US District Judge Paul Magnuson to sentence Chauvin to 25 years in prison, at the high end of the 20- to 25-year range of the plea agreement, saying Chauvin abused his authority as a police officer and acted recklessly.

The defense had asked for 20 years, saying Chauvin was remorseful for what he did and that he took responsibility.

Magnuson sentenced Chauvin to 21 years in prison, with credit for the time he has already served.

Chauvin is already serving a 22½-year sentence after being found guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in a state case in April 2021 in the death of Floyd. His federal sentence will be served at the same time.

Chauvin initially pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, but changed his plea in December. At the time, he also pleaded guilty in a separate federal indictment to charges of stripping a 14-year-old boy of his civil rights in a September 2017 encounter.

The guilty plea allowed Chauvin to avoid another high-profile trial.

Speaking briefly before his sentencing, Chauvin told the Floyd family he wished them “all the best in their lives.”

Three other former officers at the scene of Floyd’s death — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — were convicted in February on federal charges of stripping Floyd of his civil rights. Kueng and Thao were also convicted for failing to intervene to stop Chauvin from using excessive force. Your judgment dates have not been set.

Kueng and Thao also face a state trial, scheduled for October, for second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. Lane pleaded guilty to the state charge of second-degree accessory to manslaughter and avoided a trial. A charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder was dismissed as part of the plea bargain.

The four officers’ encounter with Floyd in May 2020 was captured on video captured by a bystander, a traffic camera and the officers’ body cams. In the footage, Thao can be seen among spectators while his colleagues pin Floyd to the sidewalk. Lane and Kueng are on top of Floyd while Chauvin puts pressure on Floyd’s neck. Officials were responding to a call from a supermarket about a fake bill.

Floyd’s killing by police has sparked protests around the world against systemic racism and police brutality. Derek Chauvin sentenced to just over 20 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s federal civil rights

Joshua Buckhalter

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