Derek Chauvin gets 21 years on federal charges in George Floyd's murderget the free app
MINNEAPOLIS - Derek Chauvin has been given a sentence of 21 years in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights, following a plea deal that will shift him to possibly more favorable conditions in a federal prison.
"I really don't know why you did what you did, but to put your knee on another person's neck until they expire is simply wrong, and for that conduct you must be substantially punished," U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said Thursday.
Of the 252 months in Chauvin's sentencing, he is being given credit for seven months already served, leaving 245 months remaining.
Chauvin earlier agreed to a sentence of 20 to 25 years in his December plea to a federal charge in Floyd's killing.
The defense asked for 20 years, saying Chauvin accepts responsibility for what he did, and has already gotten a 22 1/2-year prison sentence from a state court for murdering Floyd. Attorney Eric Nelson wrote that Chauvin's "remorse will be made apparent to this Court."
Chauvin briefly addressed Floyd's family at Thursday's sentencing hearing, wishing Floyd's children "all the best in their life," but not offering any apology. Floyd's brother Philonise gave a victim impact statement, as did John Pope Jr., who was 14 when Chauvin struck him and kneeled on his neck during an arrest. As part of the plea deal, Chauvin admitted to excessive force in this case.
"Just doesn't feel like he put much thought into it," Pope said. "I feel like my joy has been taken away."
Philonise Floyd emerged from the sentencing angry about the length of the sentence, as well as Chauvin's words in the court room.
"I'm looking for closure, and I want to know why. That's what I want to know -- why?" Philonise said after the sentencing.
Analysis: 21-year sentence was "more beneficial" for Chauvin, lawyer says
Before U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Derek Chauvin to 21 years in prison, he told the ex-police officer "for your actions you must be held accountable." But the sentence he ultimately handed down was "more beneficial" for Chauvin, who could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in a federal prison, attorney Joe Tamburino says.
Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, said that with good behavior, Chauvin could get 15% of his sentence reduced, meaning he would serve 17-18 years.
But his sentence could bode well for the other three officers - Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane - who were all found guilty of depriving George Floyd of his civil rights earlier this year. Magnuson said Chauvin had "absolutely destroyed the lives" of the other three men, which could signal that he might be more lenient in their sentences, Tamburino said.
Chauvin's attorney did not ask for him to be placed in a specific prison, but Tamburino suspects he'll be placed out of state, due to his position as a former police officer and attention to this case.
But the perplexing issue of Thursday's sentencing was Chauvin's lack of apology, despite his guilty plea.
"If you're not going to apologize, well why did you do this whole thing in the first place?" Tamburino said.
AG Ellison lauds Chauvin's sentence as "appropriate and right"
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said that Chauvin's federal sentence in George Floyd's murder is "step of accountability on the road to justice," and added that his thoughts were with the victims of the crimes:
"I especially want to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice for pursuing justice wherever it led, under difficult conditions. Federal prosecutors took this case because it was not a typical crime: it was an intentional deprivation of life and liberty that is criminal under federal law, so it was appropriate and right that they stepped in. In obtaining this conviction and sentence, they sent a message to Minnesotans, all Americans, and law-enforcement agencies around the country that crime like this will not be tolerated and that we must do better."
Judge sentences Derek Chauvin to 21 years
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson handed Derek Chauvin a sentence of 252 months in prison, or 21 years, which is a lower sentence than asked for by the prosecution. Magnuson gave Chauvin credit for seven of those months, having already served.
Magnuson says he doesn't know why Chauvin did what he did, but he must be punished.
"For your actions, you must be held accountable," Magnuson said.
Furthermore, Magnuson says Chauvin "absolutely destroyed the lives" of the three other officers involved in the case -- J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane. They have all three also been found guilty on federal charges in Floyd's death.
Magnuson said Chauvin will have to pay restitution.
Chauvin wishes Floyd's children "all the best in their life"
Chauvin said he recognizes the difficulty of the court in the "politically charged environment" and that the court strives for fairness.
To John Pope Jr., Chauvin said he hopes he lives a productive and rewarding life.
To George Floyd's family, Chauvin said he wishes Floyd's children "all the best in their life" and that they have "excellent guidance in becoming good adults."
Chauvin did not offer an apology.
Chauvin's lawyer: There's "much more" to his life
Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, said the unique thing about this case is that there are "supporters on both sides."
Nelson said that Chauvin may be known for the May 2020 incident, but there's much more to his life, including the care he's had for his family and the work he's done to better the community that he served.
Nelson concluded by asking for the judge to sentence Chauvin on the "low end" of the plea agreement -- 20 years.
Later, prosecutor LeeAnn Bell asked for the maximum 25-year sentence, considering this plea involves another case that wasn't involved in the state case.
"These acts were intentional ... and Chauvin's sentence needs to reflect the intentionality," she said.
Bell said the impact of the case goes beyond the victim statements, including Floyd's daughter lamenting that her father is gone.
Chauvin's mother says it wasn't his intent to kill Floyd
Chauvin's mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, gave an impact statement in court. She said her son has dedicated more than 20 years to the police department and says police have failed to protect one of their own. She says it wasn't her son's intent to kill someone that day.
She states there has been misinformation released about her son, including that he's racist and has no heart. She says her son is caring man and put his needs of his family and friends before his own.
"I want to thank the guards in Oak Park Heights for protecting my son," Pawlenty said.
She ended by saying that she loves her son with her "whole heart," and that she'd follow him wherever he goes.
Courteney Ross says she does not hate Chauvin, but is working on forgetting him
A third victim impact statement came from Courteney Ross, girlfriend of the late George Floyd. She was not in court, but her statement was read aloud.
She said she "fell to the ground in devastation" when she heard of Floyd's death.
"It is difficult to explain what was taken from me ... Floyd was the man I loved... I miss laughing with him," her statement said.
Ross said she does not hate Chauvin, but is working on forgetting him. She said she wants him to change, and to change others so they don't follow in his footsteps.
"I feel like my joy has been taken away": Victim impact statements begin
Victim statements in the Chauvin sentencing began with George Floyd's brother -- Philonise Floyd -- asking for a life sentence. He said he's had nightmares since his brother's death due to the screams captured on video.
The next impact statement came from John Pope Jr., who was 14 when Chauvin struck him and kneeled on his neck during an arrest. As part of the plea deal, Chauvin admitted to excessive force in this case.
"I feel like my joy has been taken away," Pope said.
Sentencing begins; lawyer unsure if Chauvin will speak
Derek Chauvin has already agreed to a sentence of 20 to 25 years in his December plea to a federal charge in Floyd's killing. He's already serving a 22 ½-year sentence in Oak Park Heights for his murder conviction in state court.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson will make the final decision, with prosecutors seeking the full 25 years on the grounds that Chauvin's actions were cold-blooded and needless.
As of 2 p.m., court is now in session. Magnuson has taken his seat.
No cameras are allowed in federal court.
WCCO's Esme Murphy reports Chauvin's lawyer is unsure if he'll speak in court today.
Lawyer: "Federal court is pretty by-the-book"
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson is set to sentence Derek Chauvin, who faces between 20 and 25 years in federal prison. As part of his federal plea agreement, Chauvin will serve both sentences at the same time in federal prison.
Attorney Joe Tamburino, a criminal defense attorney who is not affiliated with the case, says that what matters today is that number of years.
"What will the judge actually give as a number sentence? Will the judge give the same as the state sentence -- 22.5 years? Or will he give less, as low as 20 years? Or more than that, up to 25 years? That's what it's all about this afternoon," Tamburino said.
Tamburino said it's likely the sentence will be known within an hour of the start of sentencing, scheduled for 2 p.m.
"I doubt this goes on longer than 60 or 90 minutes," Tamburino said. "Federal court is pretty by-the-book, and they get things done pretty fast."
Tamburino said Judge Magnuson has been around for decades, and has a lot of experience. He was appointed during the Reagan administration.
"He is also someone who is not swayed by what's happening in society or media pressure or anything that's happening outside of the courtroom," Tamburino said.
Derek Chauvin to be sentenced on federal charges Thursday
MINNEAPOLIS - Derek Chauvin will learn his sentence Thursday for violating George Floyd's civil rights, with a deal in place that would extend the former Minneapolis police officer's time behind bars while shifting him to possibly more favorable conditions in a federal prison.
Chauvin agreed to a sentence of 20 to 25 years in his December plea to a federal charge in Floyd's killing. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson will make the final decision, with prosecutors seeking the full 25 on the grounds that Chauvin's actions were cold-blooded and needless.
The defense has asked for 20 years, saying Chauvin accepts responsibility for what he did, and has already gotten a 22 1/2-year prison sentence from a state court for murdering Floyd. Attorney Eric Nelson wrote that Chauvin's "remorse will be made apparent to this Court," suggesting Chauvin is likely to speak at Thursday's hearing.
Former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger said a judge could take such a statement into consideration during sentencing.
"This is his opportunity to say, 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, I didn't think, or whatever,'" Heffelfinger said. "In federal court it's very much to the inmate's advantage to be remorseful, and to demonstrate remorse, even more than at a state sentencing."
Chauvin briefly addressed Floyd's family at his state sentencing hearing in May 2021, offering condolences. Relatives of Floyd gave victim impact statements then, and have the right to do so Thursday. An attorney for the Floyd family tells WCCO that family members will be in court for the sentencing.
In entering his federal plea, Chauvin for the first time admitted that he kept his knee on Floyd's neck - even as the Black man's pleaded, "I can't breathe," and then became unresponsive - resulting in Floyd's death. Chauvin, who is white, admitted he willfully deprived Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, including unreasonable force by a police officer, during the May 2020 arrest.
Floyd's killing sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the world in a reckoning over police brutality and racism.
For his own protection, Chauvin has been held in isolation in a 10-by-10-foot room at the state's maximum security prison that he's allowed to leave for an average of one hour per day for exercise.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson said in a court filing last month that Chauvin might never be placed in a prison's general population because of the risks of him becoming a target.
Chauvin's plea deal calls for him to serve the federal sentence at the same time as the state one, and to serve it in federal prison. He's expected to serve more time behind bars than he would have faced on the state sentence alone.
However, experts say Chauvin might be safer, and live under fewer restrictions, in a federal prison. His security level and final destination will be up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which could send him anywhere in the country.
Chauvin would run the risk in the general population of a Minnesota state prison of encountering inmates he had arrested or investigated. While he can't totally escape his notoriety in a federal prison elsewhere, he's unlikely to encounter inmates with whom he has a direct connection. If the bureau decides he's safe enough in the general population, he'd have more opportunities to move about the facility, to work and to participate in programming.
With credit for good time in the federal system, he could serve anywhere from 17 years to 21 1/4 years behind bars, assuming the judge sticks to the range in the plea agreement. In the state system alone, Chauvin could have become entitled to parole after about 15 years.
Three other former Minneapolis police officers - Tou Thao, J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane - were convicted in February of federal civil rights charges in Floyd's killing. Magnuson has not set sentencing dates for them.
Lane is also due to be sentenced Sept. 21 after pleading guilty in state court to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Thao and Kueng turned down plea deals and are due to be tried in state court Oct. 24 on aiding and abetting charges.
Derek Chauvin sentencing: How to watch
WCCO will offer live, streaming coverage of Derek Chauvin's federal sentencing on CBS News Minnesota. The sentencing is set to begin at 2 p.m.
You can watch on Pluto TV, through the CBS News app or on WCCO.com.