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Derek Chauvin Sentenced to 22.5 Years in Prison for the Murder of George Floyd


Pictured: Derek Chauvin (left), Judge Peter Cahill (right).


To contextualise the recent judgement in June, on the 21st of April 2021, a twelve-member jury unanimously found Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, guilty on three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. After the verdict, Chauvin’s bail was immediately revoked and he was placed in custody. In Minnesota, second-degree murder (unplanned intentional killing) carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder (non-violent felony murder) is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.


On the 25th of June 2021, Chauvin, 45, was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison—a punishment exceeding Minnesota’s minimum 12.5-year guidelines for second-degree unintentional murder but falls short of the 30-year sentence sought for by the prosecution. Chauvin will serve 270-months, minus the 199 days he has already spent incarcerated. Judge Peter Cahill imposed one of the longest prison terms ever charged on a U.S. police officer in the killing of a Black person―citing Chauvin’s “abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty” shown to Floyd.


According to reports, one of the most likely avenues of appeal was the huge publicity given to the case and its role as a catalyst for police reform movements throughout the U.S., with the defence team arguing that this may have influenced the jury. However, hours before sentencing, the court ruled against the defence team’s request for a new trial or for a hearing on jury misconduct.


In Minnesota, defendants serve (on average) about two-thirds of their prison sentences with the rest on parole. Thus, with good behaviour, Chauvin could be granted parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years. Chauvin had the opportunity to decide if he wanted the jury to determine if aggravating factors existed in the murder, but he waived that right. Aggravating factors refer to any fact or circumstance that increases the severity or culpability of a criminal act such as recidivism, lack of remorse, and amount of harm to the victim, among many others.


Judge Cahill delayed the trial of Lane, Kueng, and Thao, the three other officers who are charged with aiding and abetting both the second-degree murder and manslaughter of Floyd, to March 2022, stating last month that he wanted to put distance between their trial and Chauvin's trial. Judge Cahill also said he wanted them to be tried on the federal charges first.


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