Juba, South Sudan,
June 25, 2021 – Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on the neck of George Floyd has been sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for orchestrating a death that sparked global outrage.
Reports from American media outlets say Chauvin showed no reaction as the verdict was pronounced by Judge Peter Cahill.
Outside the courthouse, where about a hundred people gathered, the reaction was muted at first, then turned a little more hostile.
Most of the people who gathered outside the court were disappointed as they expected a heavier sentence. Some said Chauvin could have been sentenced to as many as 40 years in prison and the prosecution had requested 30 years.
“I thought it was going to be 40,” said Ashley Dorelus between sobs. “I thought they were going to give us a little bit of hope,” added Dorelus, who flew from her home in California for a month to watch the trial.
The sentencing was, Dorelus said, “white privilege at its finest.”
Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump said the sentence was “historic”, the longest prison sentence ever for a Minnesota police officer, and that it would bring the nation “one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability.”
From Floyd’s children to brothers, the sentencing also sparked a lot of emotional reactions at times.
George Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter, in a videotaped interview, spoke of missing her father and the games they played together.
Floyd’s brother Philonise spoke tearfully in the court of having nightmares while watching endless replays of the infamous cellphone video that showed Floyd pleading for air under Chauvin’s neck.
Another Floyd brother, Terrence, sighed and looked directly at Chauvin.
“Why did you do it? Why did you stay there on his neck?” he demanded but the answer did not come.
The sentencing also witnessed some moments of controversy as Chauvin and his gave reactions that sounded utterly ironic.
Chauvin, not wanting to influence the federal civil rights charges he was facing, only spoke briefly during the sentencing to offer his condolences to the Floyd family.
“I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin was quoted to have said.
He also said there would be other information eventually coming out that would be of interest to the Floyd family.
In another surprise scene, Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty testified to her son’s character, calling him a “good man with a big heart”.
Outside the courthouse, her testimony, played on a loudspeaker, was greeted with groans and cat-calls.