Chauvin sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison

The jury convicted Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd in late April.


Shannon Doyle

Two national guard troops look out over the balcony of the Hennepin County Government Center on Monday, April 19. on Monday, April 19. A coalition of activist groups held a protest calling for justice for George Floyd on the day of closing arguments in the trial against Derek Chauvin.

Emalyn Muzzy and Lydia Morrell

Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin received a sentence of 270 months, which is 22 and a half years, for the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

The jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April after several weeks of testimony from witnesses, including Floyd’s family, bystanders and medical experts.

Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Chauvin on the highest charge that he was convicted of — second-degree murder. The average sentence for that crime is 12 and a half years; however, Cahill granted an upward departure, meaning the sentence was extended past the average length.

“I am not basing it on an attempt to send any messages,” Cahill said. “The job of a trial court judge is to apply the law to specific facts.”

The upward departure was based on Chauvin’s abuse of authority and his “particular cruelty” toward Floyd, Cahill added. He said he would explain his reasoning in a 22 page memo attached to the sentencing order.

Chauvin spoke briefly on his own behalf for the first time since the trial began to address Floyd’s family.

“I want to give my condolences to the family,” Chauvin said. “There will be some information in the future that will be of interest and I hope that things will give you some peace of mind.”

Chauvin and his defense attorney, Eric Nelson, gave no clarification as to what this emerging information will be.

Four aggravating factors contributed to the sentence: Chauvin “abused a position of trust and authority,” he acted toward Floyd with “particular cruelty,” he committed the crime with three other officers and there were several children that witnessed it.

Both the defense and prosecution wrote memos arguing what sentence would be appropriate. The prosecution requested 360 months, which is about 30 years, arguing that the aggravating factors justified a sentence double the average length for the crime. The defense requested probation, citing “mitigating factors” such as Chauvin’s lack of a criminal record.

“I ask the court follows the sentencing guideline, applies the law in a reasoned matter and imposes a just settlement,” said Nelson.

Four members of the Floyd family spoke to the judge, detailing the impact that George’s murder had on their lives. Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter appeared via video chat, telling the judge how she missed her dad, and she was followed by Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams and two brothers Philonise and Terrence Floyd.

“I wanted to know from [Chauvin] himself why?” Terrence said. “What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?”

Williams, Philonise and Terrence asked Cahill to give Chauvin the maximum sentence.

Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, also gave a victim impact statement, in her first public testimony on the case since it began.

“The public will never know the loving and caring man he is,” Pawlenty said. She said she believed her son was innocent, and disagreed with media outlets that called him racist, aggressive and heartless.

“What the sentence is not based on is not emotion or sympathy,” Cahill said. “At the same time I want to acknowledge the deep pain all families are feeling, especially the Floyd family.”