Family statements, Chauvin in court
- A jury convicted Derek Chauvin in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death..
- Chauvin is also facing a federal indictment for violating George Floyd’s civil rights that could add prison time.
- The three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death will face trial in March.
MINNEAPOLIS – George Floyd’s family, including his 7-year-old daughter, gave statements Friday at the sentencing hearing of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted in Floyd’s murder more than a year ago.
A jury convicted Chauvin in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin has been in a maximum-security prison since then. He could receive up to 30 years in prison.
Floyd’s daughter Gianna testified remotely via cellphone camera video. Wearing a checkered shirt and purple headband, she told the court that she “asks how did my dad get hurt” and wishes she could play with him and have him help her brush her teeth, like he used to every night.
Gianna told the court that she knows her dad is still around her through his spirit. If she could say anything to him, she said would tell him that “I miss him and I love him.”
Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, and brothers, Terrence and Philonise Floyd, also spoke, asking the court to give Chauvin the maximum sentence.
“My family and I have been given a life sentence. We will never be able to get George back,” Philonise Floyd said.
Chauvin, who did not testify during his trial, will have the opportunity to speak at the sentencing. It was not immediately clear if he would speak.
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Hennepin County Jude Peter Cahill on Friday morning denied a defense attorney’s request for a new trial. Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, filed a motion claiming Chauvin was deprived of his Constitutional right to a fair trial, but Cahill said Nelson failed to prove any of the allegations.
Chauvin, 45, murdered Floyd on Memorial Day 2020 outside a Cup Foods store in Minneapolis after several officers responded to a call of a counterfeit bill. Bystanders captured the incident on video, and the murder sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
During Chauvin’s trial, a police officer fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Earlier this month, Minneapolis police fatally shot Winston Smith Jr., a 32-year-old Black father of three.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also asked the public to submit community impact statements online. The web portal to submit a statement was closed as of Thursday afternoon, and a spokesperson for the attorney general could not immediately say how many submissions had been received.
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Although Chauvin was found guilty of three charges, he’ll only be sentenced on the most serious count because all the charges stem from one act, carried out against one person. For first time-offenders who have committed second-degree murder, sentencing guidelines recommend 150 months or 12½ years in prison.
Prosecutors asked that Chauvin be given a more severe prison sentence because of the aggravating factors in Floyd’s death, including that Chauvin abused his authority as a police officer and the crime was committed in the presence of children. Minnesota Judge Peter Cahill ruled last month there were four aggravating factors, which means Chauvin may face up to 30 years in prison. But Cahill could still sentence him to fewer.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson opposed a tougher sentence, saying the state failed to prove the aggravating factors, among others, existed when Chauvin arrested Floyd. Nelson requested a new trial and a hearing to have the verdict impeached because of what he called jury misconduct.
No matter the sentence, a defendant on good behavior will likely serve two-thirds of the penalty in prison and the rest on supervised release called parole. Chauvin will also get credit for time served since he went to prison in April.
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Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, the three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death, will face trial in March.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin, Lane, Keung and Thao for violating Floyd’s civil rights, which could add time to the sentences the former officers may face. Those charges accuse them of violating a federal law forbidding government officials from abusing their authority.
Violating someone’s civil rights is punishable “by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty,” depending on the circumstances and injuries resulting from the crime, according to the Department of Justice.
Chauvin also faces another federal indictment stemming from a confrontation with a 14-year-old in 2017.
Hauck reported from Morristown, New Jersey.