Derek Chauvin sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for murder of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for the murder of George Floyd.

The sentence means Chauvin, 46, will leave a state prison where he has been kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for the past 15 months and be allowed to move to a federal prison.

Judge Paul Magnuson told Chauvin during the civil rights violation sentencing that to “put your knee on another person’s neck until they’re deceased is wrong”.

“And for that you must be substantially punished.”

Prosecutors and Mr Floyd’s family had sought the maximum 25 years on the grounds that Chauvin’s actions were cold-blooded and needless.

The defence had asked for 20 years, saying Chauvin had accepted responsibility for what he did.

Mr Floyd, 46, died on 25 May 2020 after Chauvin pinned him to the ground with his knee on his neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds in Minneapolis. Mr Floyd had been accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. 

His killing sparked protests across the United States, a reckoning over police brutality and racism, and galvanised the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after a trial in April 2021 and sentenced to 22.5 years in a state prison in June that year.

During Thursday’s sentencing, Chauvin made a brief statement in which he addressed Mr Floyd’s children.

“I just want to say that I wish them all the best in their life and have excellent guidance in becoming great adults.” he said.

The court also heard victim impact statements from members of Mr Floyd’s family including his brother Philonese Floyd and girlfriend Courtney Ross.

Another statement came from John Pope, who sued the city of Minneapolis over an incident in 2017 when he was struck with a flashlight and held in a chokehold by Chauvin.

Chauvin pleaded guilty to using excessive force on Mr Pope, then aged 14, as part of his plea deal.

“I hope he takes this time to think about what he could have done differently and what he did to others,” Mr Pope said.

Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty also made a statement, criticising “misinformation” that her son was racist.

“Everyone in Minnesota needs to heal and realise that all lives matter, no matter the color of your skin. Every life matters,” Ms Pawlenty said.

Defence attorney Eric Nelson said there was much more to Chauvin than his actions on 25 May 2020, adding he was a “staunch family man”.

Prosecutor LeeAnn Bell had argued that Chauvin’s actions showed he had intentionally killed Mr Floyd.

Flowers, signs and balloons are left near a makeshift memorial to George Floyd near the spot where he died in Minneapolis

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