George Floyd’s killer avoids death penalty
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd in an incident that sparked race riots across the US, has been sentenced to 21 years in prison on federal civil rights charges.
US District Judge Paul Magnuson handed down the sentence on Thursday in St. Paul, Minnesota, ordering a prison term at the low end of the 20- to 25-year range in Chauvin’s plea-bargain agreement. The ex-cop will get credit for the time he’s already served in jail, meaning he will have 20 years and five months remaining on his federal sentence.
Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter charges last year in state court and was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. He will serve his state and federal sentences concurrently, meaning he won’t have to start over on one after finishing the other.
The 19-year Minneapolis Police Department veteran pleaded guilty last December to deprivation of civil rights under color of law. Magnuson approved the plea deal in May, ensuring that Chauvin wouldn’t be at risk of receiving the death penalty, the maximum sentence possible if he had been convicted at trial.
Chauvin, 46, agreed to plead guilty in the federal case on the condition that he would serve his time in a federal prison, rather than a state penitentiary. The deal requires him to remain incarcerated for at least 17 years, whereas he could have been eligible for parole from state prison in less than 15 years. However, federal prisons in the US are typically safer and less crowded than state prisons.
Chauvin kneeled on the back of Floyd’s neck with the suspect pinned to the pavement for more than nine minutes during a May 2020 arrest that was caught on video. The incident sparked Black Lives Matter protests, some of which turned violent, leaving dozens of Americans dead and causing billions of dollars in property damage.
Members of Floyd’s family had urged Magnuson to give Chauvin the maximum sentence of 25 years. During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Chauvin said he wished “all the best” for Floyd’s children, but he stopped short of apologizing. He spoke for less than two minutes and offered no explanation for his actions.