Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd, whose dying gasps under Chauvin’s knee led to the biggest outcry against racial injustice in the US in generations.

Outside court, Mr Floyd’s partner, Courteney Ross, told The Telegraph she felt "disappointment" that Chauvin did not receive a higher sentence. 

"I came into today really thinking it was going to be a 40-year sentence, so I felt such strong disappointment." 

"It was disheartening that the judge didn’t come down as hard as he could," she said. "I didn’t want him to make any type of statement, I just wanted him to be fair."

The punishment – which fell short of the 30 years prosecutors had requested – came after Chauvin broke his more than yearlong silence in court to offer condolences to the Floyd family. He also said he hopes the family will eventually have “some peace of mind.”

With good behaviour, Chauvin, 45, could get out on parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years.

In imposing the punishment, Judge Peter Cahill went beyond the 12 1/2-year sentence prescribed under state guidelines, citing “your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty” shown to Floyd.

"I heard his mother’s statement," Miss Ross said. "Of course, as a mother, I can imagine how she feels. But it seems to me like she didn’t take much accountability."

Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, pleaded for mercy for her son, saying his reputation has been unfairly reduced to that of "an aggressive, heartless and uncaring person" and a racist.

"I want this court to know that none of these things are true and that my son is a good man," she told the judge.

Watch the video above for the full interview with Courteney Ross.

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