A Minneapolis court on Friday, 25 June sentenced former American policeman Derek Chauvin to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd that rocked the United States last year and triggered the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
A video of the police action that had led to the death of Floyd, an African-American man, had gone viral on social media in May last year and had sparked global outrage with people coming out to protest against Floyd’s death.
The video had shown Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck with his hands in his pockets, as Floyd struggled to breathe.
Twelve jurors had found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter after just 10 hours of deliberations, as per international media reports.
Cahill further clarified that the sentence imposed on Chauvin was not influenced by the public concern that the case had garnered, but that the trial had been conducted in a routine manner, taking into consideration all evidence.
The prosecutors, in the case, had requested a 30-year sentence for Chauvin.
US President Joe Biden, who had been in communication with the Floyd family, expressed that the sentence imposed on the perpetrator seemed appropriate.
Floyd's brother, Terrence, however, expressed his dissatisfaction with the sentence handed to Chauvin. “We don’t want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We’ve been through that already,” he said, as quoted by AP.
Right before his sentence was pronounced, Chauvin, who had not testified at his trial, removed his mask and turned to George Floyd's family and said:
In May 2020, Chauvin was seen on video thrusting his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight-and-a-half minutes, eventually killing him. He was arrested on 29 May 2020 and charged with murder.
The video went viral on social media, where Floyd can be seen pleading, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd had been handcuffed for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill at a corner store. He was accused of refusing to get into a squad car and “intentionally falling down”, saying he was claustrophobic and struggling to breathe, according to the complaint.
Chauvin was the first officer to be put on trial among the other three – Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J Alexander Kueng – who were accused of aiding and abetting murder.
(With inputs from The Associated Press and Reuters)