Former Minneapolis, Minn. police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday (June 25) to 22 1/2 years in prison for second-degree murder, months after being convicted in the death of George Floyd.
The judge denied his request for a new trial.
The case was heard by Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill. He said at the hearing that he did not “base his sentence on public opinion” or “send any message. He made the ruling because of the “particularly cruel” behavior of Jovin during Floyd’s death.
Previously, Jovan was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
The incident sparked left-wing demonstrations, riots and violence across the United States, with supporters calling on authorities to “stop funding the police. Some critics, however, say the demonstrations have led to a dramatic increase in crime in major U.S. cities and regions in recent months. Weeks of rioting, arson, looting and violence in Minneapolis followed Floyd’s death, causing tens of millions of dollars in local damage.
Jovon did not testify during the trial. On Friday, he spoke only briefly in court and offered “condolences to the Floyd family.
Prosecutors argued during the hearing that Jovin should have received a heavier sentence because he did not provide assistance to Floyd during the arrest and said “he was dismissive of the duty of care that police officers are supposed to observe.
Prosecutors had asked for 30 years in prison, while Jovin’s attorney argued for probation.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson told the judge that a stiff sentence would have a negative impact on the public, noting that he had received thousands of e-mails in support of Jovian.
In rebutting the prosecutor’s claims, Nelson noted that Jovin’s colleagues had positive things to say about him, saying that Jovin had received medals for bravery, that he was proud to be a Minneapolis police officer and, in addition, that Jovin had served in the U.S. Army.
But in the end, the judge denied Nelson’s motion for a new trial and found that he could not prove the misconduct presented by the prosecution and the jury. Jovin can appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals after 90 days of sentencing.
Judge: 22.5 years in prison
Defense attorney Nelson had called on the court to focus on Jovin’s background and reduce his sentence considering factors such as “his lack of criminal history” and “his suitability for probation. Nelson said Jovin’s crime should be described as a mistake he made based on police experience and training, not an intentional offense.
In response, prosecutors said in a memo that while the proposed 30-year sentence is “twice the upper limit of the presumptive sentencing range,” the sentence “will give due consideration to the far-reaching impact of the defendant’s conduct on the victim, the victim’s family and the community. Prosecutors argued that Jovin’s conduct toward Floyd was particularly cruel, abusing his police enforcement powers and acting in the presence of the child.
Given Jovin’s clean criminal record, the Minnesota sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of 12 1/2 years, but the judge agreed with the prosecutor that the case had “aggravating circumstances” that warranted a harsher penalty. If Jovan serves his sentence with good behavior, he could be released on parole after serving about two-thirds of his sentence.
Statement from families of both sides
During the sentencing hearing, Floyd’s family issued a victim’s family statement, including Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter Gianna, who told the court she was making a “request” for her father.
Jovian’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, also attended the hearing and issued a statement in support of a lighter sentence.
Pawlenty said many of the accusations of “racist” or “heartless” that have been foisted on Jovan by the media are false, and said Jovan should not be given a harsh sentence.
“None of these things are true, my son is a good man.” My son is a good man,” Pawlenty said of the allegations.