- A jury convicted Derek Chauvin in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death..
- Chauvin is also facing a federal indictment for violating George Floyd’s civil rights that could add prison time.
- The three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death will face trial in March.
MINNEAPOLIS – The families of George Floyd and Derek Chauvin gave statements Friday at the sentencing hearing for Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted in Floyd’s murder more than a year ago.
A jury convicted Chauvin in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He could receive up to 30 years in prison.
Chauvin, who did not testify during his trial, will have the opportunity to speak at the sentencing. It was not immediately clear if he would address the court. He has been in a maximum-security prison since he was convicted.
Meanwhile, a small crowd was gathered outside the Cup Foods store where Floyd was killed to listen to the hearing. Some in the crowd were chanting and praying.
Chauvin’s mother testifies, first in family to speak on ex-cop’s behalf
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, testified on behalf of her son – the first time a friend or family member has spoken to the court on his behalf. She called him a “quiet, honorable and selfless man” and her “favorite son.”
Pawlenty said the happiest moment of her life was when she gave birth to her son. The second, she said, was when she pinned his police badge on him.
“The public will never know the loving and caring man he is. But his family does,” she told the court, adding, “When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me.”
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Floyd’s daughter Gianna testified remotely via cellphone camera video. Wearing a checkered shirt and purple headband, she told the court that she “asks how did my dad get hurt” and wishes she could play with him and have him help her brush her teeth, like he used to every night.
Gianna told the court that she knows her dad is still around her through his spirit. If she could say anything to him, she said would tell him that “I miss him and I love him.”
Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, and brothers, Terrence and Philonise Floyd, also spoke, asking the court to give Chauvin the maximum sentence.
“My family and I have been given a life sentence. We will never be able to get George back,” Philonise Floyd said.
Terrence Floyd said he would ask Chauvin, who sat just several feet away from him, “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?”
He paused at times with emotion and looked down.
“We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist,” he told the judge. “We’ve been through that already. … If it was us, if the rules were reverse, there would be no case, it’d be open and shut. We’d be in the jail for murdering somebody. So we ask for that same penalty for Derek Chauvin.”
Judge denies new trial
Hennepin County Jude Peter Cahill on Friday morning denied a defense attorney’s request for a new trial. Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, filed a motion claiming Chauvin was deprived of his Constitutional right to a fair trial, but Cahill said Nelson failed to prove any of the allegations.
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What to know about the sentencing
Floyd died on Memorial Day 2020 when Chauvin, 45, kneeled on him outside a Cup Foods store in Minneapolis after several officers responded to a call of a counterfeit bill. Bystanders captured the incident on video, and the murder sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Although Chauvin was found guilty of three charges, he’ll only be sentenced on the most serious count because all the charges stem from one act, carried out against one person. For first time-offenders who have committed second-degree murder, sentencing guidelines recommend 150 months or 12½ years in prison.
Prosecutors asked that Chauvin be given a more severe prison sentence because of the aggravating factors in Floyd’s death, including that Chauvin abused his authority as a police officer and the crime was committed in the presence of children. Minnesota Judge Peter Cahill ruled last month there were four aggravating factors, which means Chauvin may face up to 30 years in prison. But Cahill could still sentence him to fewer.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson opposed a tougher sentence, saying the state failed to prove the aggravating factors, among others, existed when Chauvin arrested Floyd. Nelson requested a new trial and a hearing to have the verdict impeached because of what he called jury misconduct.
No matter the sentence, a defendant on good behavior will likely serve two-thirds of the penalty in prison and the rest on supervised release called parole. Chauvin will also get credit for time served since he went to prison in April.
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Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, the three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death, will face trial in March.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, Lane, Keung and Thao for violating Floyd’s civil rights, which could add time to the sentences the former officers may face. Those charges accuse them of violating a federal law forbidding government officials from abusing their authority.
Violating someone’s civil rights is punishable “by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty,” depending on the circumstances and injuries resulting from the crime, according to the Department of Justice.
Chauvin also faces another federal indictment stemming from a confrontation with a 14-year-old in 2017.
Hauck reported from Morristown, New Jersey.