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The former police officer who murdered George Floyd in 2020 has been sentenced to 22 years and six months behind bars.
Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin blinked and frowned from under his mask as he was sent behind bars on Friday after his bid to seek a fresh trial failed.
Before being sentenced, he finally broke his silence – briefly offering his condolence to Floyd's loved ones who had told the judge they had nightmares about his death.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of murdering Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest in the city last May.
He was helping arrest Floyd on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill at a grocery store in the Minnesota city.
Floyd's death sparked protests around the world, and the guilty verdict in the trial was widely seen as a watershed moment in the history of US policing.
George Floyd, 46, died after Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest
(Image: Copyright unknown)
A jury found Chauvin guilty on April 20 of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd's brother Terrence Floyd addressed Chauvin directly during his victim impact statement at sentencing.
"What was going through your head as you had your knee on my brother's neck?" he asked.
He told the judge he wanted the maximum sentence, adding: "We don't want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We've been through that already."
Chauvin was handed a longer sentence than legal guidelines recommended due to aggravating factors, but less than the maximum 40 years he could have received.
Derek Chauvin appears in court for sentencing on Friday
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year prison sentence – double the upper limit indicated in sentencing guidelines for a first-time offender.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill issued a 22-page explanation of his ruling.
"I'm not going to attempt to be profound or clever because it's not the appropriate time," he said.
"I'm not basing my sentence on public opinion. I'm not basing it on the attempt to send any messages.
"The job of a trial court judge is to apply the law to specific facts and to deal with individual cases."
Before the sentence was handed down, Floyd's brothers told the court of their anguish.
Chauvin's mother insisted on her son's innocence, and Chauvin himself briefly offered condolences to the Floyd family.
The court also heard from Floyd's seven-year-old daughter Gianna who told the judge via video how she missed her daddy, saying he used to help her brush her teeth.
George's brother Terence Floyd asked Chauvin what was going through his head when he knelt on his neck
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Speaking outside court after the sentence was handed down, Floyd’s girlfriend Courtney Ross told reporters she was disappointed by the sentence, but that the fight for justice would continue “for the greater good".
“I’m shocked that it wasn’t a longer sentence but it is the beginning,” she said, adding: “It’s a little disappointing.”
Chauvin's lawyer argued that he was deprived of a fair trial because of prosecutorial and jury misconduct and errors of law at trial.
Through his attorney, Eric Nelson, Chauvin asked the judge to sentence him to probation, writing that the murder of Floyd was "best described as an error made in good faith".
Bud Judge Cahill denied his request for a new trial in an order on Friday morning ahead of sentencing.
People in Minneapolis tuned in to hear the sentencing and Floyd's love ones speak in the landmark case
(Image: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock)
Video of Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on the neck of Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, sparked outrage around the world.
The call for justice for Floyd became a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter demonstrations and protesters demanded police be held accountable.
Jubilant scenes had erupted in Minneapolis as Chauvin was found guilty in April.
Scenes of anger and dismay played out outside the courtroom on Friday as the city then reacted to the sentence falling short of the 30-year jail term prosecutors had sought.
People gathered outside the courtroom ahead of sentencing to show their support for justice for George Floyd
Many flocked to the court or tuned in around the city on tenterhooks to hear the sentence in the landmark case.
Floyd's loved ones were asked to address the judge before sentencing.
His daughter Gianna began, appearing in a video recording.
"I ask about him all the time," she said in the video as Chauvin sat before the judge dressed in a grey suit and tie, with a blue mask covering his nose and mouth.
"My daddy always used to help me brush my teeth."
Asked what she would say to him if she could see him again, she said: "It would be I miss you and I love you."
Philonise Floyd, Floyd's brother, said he was haunted by the videos of his death, which were replayed countless times at Chauvin's trial.
Chauvin addressed the sentencing hearing, hinting he had more information that he could not elaborate on
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
He said: "Every day, I have begged for justice to be served, reliving the execution of George while others begged and pleaded for officer Chauvin to simply just allow George to take a breath.
“I haven't had a real night's sleep because of the nightmares I constantly have, hearing my brother beg and plead for his life over and over again.
“Even saying, 'they're going to kill me, please, officer,' screaming for our mom.”
Chauvin himself addressed the judge, saying he could not give a full statement due to "additional legal matters."
"But very briefly though, I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family," he said.
"There's going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you."
He did not elaborate.
His mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, said: “My son's identity has also been reduced to that as a racist. I want this court to know that none of these things are true, and that my son is a good man.
“The public will never know the loving man he is but his family does.”
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The three other officers involved in Floyd's deadly arrest are expected to be tried next year.
J. Alexander Kueng, 27, Thomas Lane, 38, and Tou Thao, 35, had been set to stand trial in August but has been pushed back until 2022.
They are accused of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter connected to Floyd's death.
They have pleaded not guilty.