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The world reacts to the sentencing of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd

Written by Florie Mwanza

The killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 sparked worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. Derek Chauvin, the American police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes has now been sentenced for the murder. 

Derek Chauvin, the American police officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020 has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. Chauvin has been awaiting sentencing since 20 April 2021, when a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The prison sentence is 10 years above the state guideline of 12 and a half years because the presiding judge, Judge Cahill, gave the prosecution permission to seek an increased prison sentence due to Chauvin’s “abuse of a position of trust and authority, and also the particular cruelty shown.”

Although he has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in jail, with good behaviour Derek Chauvin could be eligible for parole after serving two thirds of the sentence, roughly 15 years. Judge Cahill has also allowed the 199 days Chauvin spent in custody pre-trial, to count towards his time served.

Chauvin spoke for the first time and did not apologise for the killing but instead said: “At this time due to some additional legal matters at hand I’m not able to give a full formal statement at this time. Briefly though I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family.”

The murder of George Floyd lasted nine minutes and was captured by bystanders and security cameras, and quickly shared on social media. The tragic events sparked worldwide, anti-racism protests protests in the summer of 2020. Due to high public interest, both the trial and the sentencing hearing were available for public viewing. 

How has George Floyd’s family reacted? 

Floyd’s family attended the sentencing hearing and gave statements in reaction. 

George’s brother, Terrence Floyd, said in court, “On behalf of me and my family, we seek the maximum penalty. We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist.” Despite the statement, Chauvin received a custodial sentence almost twenty years shy of the 40-year maximum possible under Minnesota statutes. 

Another of Floyd’s siblings, Bridgett Floyd reacted to the sentencing saying, the sentence handed down “shows that matters of police brutality are finally being taken seriously.” Speaking through a video link, George Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter Gianna said the following in her victim impact statement: “I want to play with him and have fun go on a plane ride and that’s it.”

Attorney, Ben Crump, who has been working on behalf of the Floyd family tweeted in response to the sentencing, saying: “This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability.”

In reaction to the sentencing, the Black Lives Matter organisation tweeted, “We hope that the closing of this chapter provides some relief for his family. May this remind us of the need for real justice in George’s name & [sic] those whose lives have been stolen by police violence.”

The social media reaction

The sentencing hasn’t just drawn an emotional response from those close to George Floyd, people on social media are also sharing their thoughts on the conviction and resulting prison sentence. 

Images: Getty / Brandon Bell

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