(St. Paul) A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Derek Chauvin to 21 years in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, telling the former Minneapolis police officer what he did was “just wrong” and “insulting.”
Updated yesterday at 5:55pm.
District Judge Paul Magnuson severely criticized Chauvin for the actions he took on May 25, 2020, when the white police officer pressed a knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd, who was lying on the sidewalk outside a Minneapolis supermarket, for more than 9 minutes. while the black man lay dying.
“I really don’t know why you did what you did,” Judge Magnuson said at the sentencing hearing Thursday. Putting a knee on someone’s neck until they die is just wrong. […] Your behavior is wrong and abusive. »
Judge Magnuson, who presided over the federal court trial of the three other officers at the scene earlier this year, blamed Chauvin for what happened. Of the four officers, Chauvin was by far the most senior and he brushed off questions from one of his colleagues who asked if Mr Floyd should be turned aside.
You destroyed the lives of three young police officers by taking command of the crime scene.
Judge Paul Magnuson speaking to ex-cop Derek Chauvin
Judge Magnuson’s 21-year sentence falls within the lower range of the 20 to 25 years provided for in the plea agreement, under which Chauvin will serve the federal sentence concurrent with his 22-year sentence and half in prison on the charges filed by the state of Minnesota for murder and manslaughter.
Because of differences in parole eligibility between the state and federal court systems, Chauvin will spend slightly more time behind bars than the state’s criminal conviction alone allows. He will also serve his sentence in the federal prison system, where he may be more secure and subject to fewer restrictions than the state prison system.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, had asked for 20 years in prison, arguing that his client felt remorse and that he would make it clear to the court. But Chauvin offered no direct apology or remorse to George Floyd’s family in brief statements in court.
Judge Magnuson did not set a date for the sentencing of the three other officers who were at the scene – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane. They were all found guilty on federal civil rights charges in February.
On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin, a veteran Minneapolis police officer, knelt on the African American man’s neck for almost 10 minutes, indifferent to the interventions of panicked passersby and the groans of George Floyd.
The scene, which was filmed and posted online, sparked huge protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and beyond.
During a well-attended trial in the Minnesota state judiciary in spring 2021, his attorney pleaded that George Floyd died of an overdose linked to health problems and asserted that Derek Chauvin had used violence justifiably.
He failed to convince the jury and the former police officer was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. He appealed against this verdict.
At the same time, the federal judiciary had opened its own case, charging him and his three former colleagues with violating George Floyd’s civil rights, specifically “the right not to be a victim of inappropriate use of force.” by a policeman.
These “double” lawsuits are legal in the United States but relatively rare, and reflect the importance of these files, which have reignited a heated debate about the United States’ racist past.
Not the first incident
In the federal proceedings, he initially pleaded not guilty before changing strategy in December 2021 and admitting some responsibility for the first time.
In his admission of guilt, he admitted to having used violence “knowing it was wrong” and “without any legal justification”.
He had also admitted wrongdoing in the violence inflicted on a 14-year-old black teenager in 2017, whom he held on the floor below his knee for fifteen minutes.
“I hope he will use the time before him to think about what he could have done differently,” the young man, John Pope, said during Thursday’s hearing.
In exchange for admitting his wrongdoing, it was agreed that Derek Chauvin would serve his sentence in a federal prison, rather than the state’s maximum security prison, where he is currently being held in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners.
The other three agents, who remained passive during George Floyd’s ordeal, were found guilty by federal justice in February, but their verdict has not yet been pronounced.
The state judiciary also charged her with aiding and abetting murder. One of them, Thomas Lane, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on September 21. The trial of the other two, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, is scheduled to begin on October 24.