(MINNEAPOLIS) — Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 21 years in prison on federal civil rights charges Thursday in the death of George Floyd.
He had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges but in December 2021, he pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights and admitted that he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck even after he became unresponsive.
Chauvin also pleaded guilty to depriving a then-14-year-old child of his constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by an officer, which resulted in bodily injury to the teen, according to the Justice Department.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson made the final decision.
In April 2021, Chauvin was also found guilty on three counts in Floyd’s death — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes.
He had already been sentenced to 270 months, minus time served, which equals about 22 1/2 years in prison.
In a statement, Derrick Johnson, the president of civil rights organization NAACP, called for justice in other instances of police violence in the U.S.
“While today’s federal sentence for George Floyd’s murderer is a step toward accountability, America’s policing crisis continues to crush and devastate Black families,” Johnson said. “Holding police officers accountable is crucial. But meaningful justice, for the countless Black people murdered by police, is desperately needed. Police should serve and protect, not lynch. We need to reform policing in America.”
Former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were also charged for their roles in Floyd’s death.
The three of them had pleaded not guilty but were convicted by a jury.
The four former officers were attempting to place Floyd under arrest on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store in 2020.
During the encounter, Chauvin held his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes. Floyd, who was handcuffed and in a prone position on the pavement, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe before falling unconscious and losing a pulse, according to evidence presented at Chauvin’s state trial. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Thao and Kueng now await a state trial for charges of aiding and abetting in murder and aiding and abetting in manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The two have pleaded not guilty.
The trial is set to start on Oct. 24.
Lane pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in exchange for the dismissal of the top charge against him of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder.
Under the agreement, a sentence of 36 months, or three years in prison, will be recommended by both prosecutors and Lane’s legal team. If he went to trial and was convicted on both counts, he could have faced a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, according to the plea agreement.
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