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Derek Chauvin sentenced to 21 years in prison for murdering George Floyd

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Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

The verdict means 46-year-old Chauvin will leave a state prison where he spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement for the past 15 months and be allowed to move to a federal prison.

Judge Paul Magnuson told Chauvin during the civil rights violation that it is wrong to “put your knee on someone else’s neck until they die.”

“And for that you should be severely punished.”

Prosecutors and Mr Floyd’s family had demanded the maximum 25 years on the grounds that Chauvin’s actions were cold-blooded and unnecessary.

The defense had asked for 20 years and said Chauvin had accepted responsibility for what he did.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 after Chauvin pinned him to the ground for 9 minutes and 29 seconds in Minneapolis with his knee on the back of his neck. Mr Floyd had been accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill in a supermarket.

His murder sparked protests in the United States, a reckoning over police brutality and racism, and sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chauvin was found guilty of first-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after a trial in April 2021 and sentenced to 22.5 years in a state prison in June of that year.

During Thursday’s sentencing, Chauvin made a brief statement addressing Mr Floyd’s children.

“I just want to say that I wish them all the best in their lives and have excellent guidance to become great adults.” he said.

The court also heard victim statements from members of Mr Floyd’s family, including his brother Philonese Floyd and girlfriend Courtney Ross.

Another statement came from John Pope, who sued the city of Minneapolis over an incident in 2017 when he was struck by a flashlight and held in a stranglehold by Chauvin.

Protesters hold placards honoring George Floyd and other victims of racism as they gather during a protest outside Hennepin County Government Center on March 28, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

((AFP via Getty Images))

Chauvin pleaded guilty to using excessive force against the then 14-year-old pope as part of his plea deal.

“I hope he takes this time to think about what he could have done differently and what he’s done to others,” Pope said.

Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty also made a statement, criticizing “misinformation” that her son was racist.

“Everyone in Minnesota needs to heal and realize that all lives matter, regardless of the color of your skin. Every life matters,” said Ms. Pawlenty.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson said Chauvin was much more than his actions on May 25, 2020, adding that he was a “faithful family man”.

Prosecutor LeeAnn Bell had argued that Chauvin’s actions showed that he deliberately killed Mr Floyd.

“He was not a rookie. He had been a police officer for years. He knew his training. He knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway.”

Judge Magnuson sentenced Chauvin to 252 months minus seven months for time served.

He added that Chauvin had “absolutely destroyed the lives of three other junior officers”, who were also charged with criminal charges for Mr Floyd’s death.

Former Minneapolis police officers — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane — were convicted in February of federal civil rights charges in the Floyd murder. Judge Magnuson has not set sentencing dates for them.

Chauvin will also have to pay a refund.

The federal courthouse in St Paul was not allowed to take movies or photos.

When filing his federal plea of ​​guilty, Chauvin first admitted to holding his knee to Floyd’s neck — even when the black man pleaded “I can’t breathe,” and then stopped responding — resulting in the death of the man. Mr Floyd.

Flowers, plates and balloons are left at a makeshift memorial to George Floyd near where he died in Minneapolis

(AFP via Getty Images)

Chauvin, who is white, admitted to deliberately depriving Mr Floyd of the right to be free from unreasonable seizure, including unreasonable force by a police officer during his May 2020 arrest.

Since he was found guilty of murder in May 2021, Chauvin has been kept isolated from other inmates in the high-security Administrative Control Unit at Oak Park Heights State Penitentiary in Minnesota.

Chauvin had little freedom within the facility, with no access to job opportunities and educational programs, the official said.

He had to shower, go to the toilet, eat and sleep in his cell and can only go outside for one hour a day to exercise.

Following Thursday’s sentencing, Chauvin is expected to serve more time behind bars than he would have received based on the state sentence alone.

However, experts say Chauvin may be safer and living with fewer restrictions in a federal prison.

His level of security and final destination will be determined by the US Bureau of Prisons, which can send him anywhere in the country.

Chauvin was at risk of encountering in the general population of a Minnesota state prison inmates he had arrested or investigated. While he can’t quite escape his fame in a federal prison elsewhere, he’s unlikely to run into inmates with whom he has a direct bond.

If the agency decides he’s safe enough among the general population, he’ll have more options to move around the facility, work, and participate in programming.

With credit for good time in the federal system, he could serve about 17 years behind bars.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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