Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted in the murder of African American George Floyd, has been sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison.
Judge Peter Cahill told the court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Friday that the sentence, which exceeded guidelines for first-time offenders, was based on Chauvin abusing his position of trust and the cruelty he showed toward Floyd.
Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year prison sentence, while Chauvin’s defense asked for a sentence of probation and time served.
With good behavior, Chauvin could be paroled after serving two-thirds of his sentence, about 15 years.
Chauvin was convicted April 20 of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The former police officer, who has been in jail since his conviction, is facing separate federal civil rights charges in connection with Floyd’s death.
Floyd was killed in May 2020 when Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes.
U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House that the sentence “seemed to be appropriate” but said he did not know all the details.
Several family members of Floyd addressed the sentencing hearing Friday, including his daughter and two of his brothers.
Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter, Gianna, appeared in a video recording, saying she asks about her father all the time. When asked what she would say to her dad if she could see him again, she said, “It would be, ‘I miss you and I love you.'”
Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd got emotional when he told the court that he wanted to know why Chauvin took the actions he did.
“Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?” he said.
Both brothers, Terrence Floyd and Philonise Floyd, requested the maximum sentence for Chauvin.
“My family and I have been given a life sentence. We will never be able to get George back,” Philonise Floyd said.
Chauvin said he was not able to give a full formal statement because of “additional legal matters” but said, “I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family.”
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, also addressed the court, saying that her son is a “good man.”
“The public will never know the loving and caring man he is, that his family knows,” she said.
The most serious count against Chauvin, second-degree murder, carried a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Legal experts, however, said a 40-year sentence risked being overturned on appeal, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Previously, Judge Cahill said there were ”aggravating circumstances” in Floyd’s murder, giving him discretion to sentence Chauvin to a term longer than prescribed under state guidelines. In the state of Minnesota, 12 1/2 years is the average sentence for a first-offense case like Chauvin’s.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank said Friday the judge should give Chauvin 30 years in prison, arguing that “tortured is the right word” for what the officer did to Floyd.
He said Chauvin engaged in “9 1/2 minutes of cruelty to a man who was helpless and just begging for his life.”
Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that the court must take into account mitigating factors when sentencing Chauvin, arguing that he spent 19 years as a Minneapolis police officer, a profession that he loved, and had never previously violated the law.
The defense had requested a new trial for Chauvin. Judge Cahill denied that request early Friday before the sentencing.
Floyd’s death, captured on cellphone video by a bystander, inspired global protests against institutional racism and police practices, particularly in the United States.
Information from the Associated Press and the Reuters news service contributed to this report.