MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer convicted for the murder of George Floyd has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison, in a decision passed down by Judge Peter Cahill on Friday.
Chauvin was sentenced at the Hennepin County Government Center, after Floyd's family members gave victim impact statements and Defense Attorney Eric Nelson pleaded his case one last time.
For Floyd's family members, the sentence marked a moment of accountability, though his sister Bridgett Floyd said there is still a "long way to go."
"The sentence handed down today to the Minneapolis police officer who killed my brother George Floyd shows that matters of police brutality are finally being taken seriously," Floyd said. "However, we have a long way to go and many changes to make before Black and Brown people finally feel like they are being treated fairly and humanely by law enforcement in this country."
"This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability. For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account," said national Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd's family. "While this shouldn't be exceptional, tragically it is. Day after day, year after year, police kill Black people without consequence. But today, with Chauvin's sentence, we take a significant step forward -- something that was unimaginable a very short time ago."
Crump said that the next step is for Chauvin to be convicted on the federal charges he faces, alongside the other three officers at the scene: Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane.
Attorney General Keith Ellison addressed the media outside of the Hennepin County Government Center shortly after Chauvin heard his fate.
He said that Chauvin's sentence is one of the longest a former police officer has ever received for an unlawful use of deadly force in the state of Minnesota.
However, he added that "today's sentencing is not justice, but it is another moment of accountability on the road to justice." He urged judges and prosecutors to hold corrupt police officers accountable for their actions.
Moments later, in front of a crowd of activists and journalists, Rev. Al Sharpton spoke alongside Crump, Floyd's family, and the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August.
"Let us not feel that we are here to celebrate. Because justice would have been George Floyd never have been killed. Justice would have been the maximum," Sharpton said. "We got more than we thought, only because we have been disappointed so many times before."
Sharpton reminded the crowd of those who died who never saw a court date: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Jacob Blake, and Breonna Taylor, among many others. He then led a prayer, reflecting back on the moment months before, when he had done the same as Chauvin's trial was about to begin.
Gov. Tim Walz called the sentence a "positive step towards justice," though he added that "accountability in the courtroom is not enough."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey reflected that the moment Chauvin was convicted an "important step toward accountability" and Friday's sentence "delivers an additional layer of legal accountability, the work underway to advance meaningful police reforms and structural change must and will always continue in full in Minneapolis."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar called the sentencing "another step forward towards accountability," adding:
"But it does not bring us true justice. As long as George Floyd isn't around to hug his kids and Black Americans still live under a system that keeps moms and dads up at night worrying about whether their children will make it home safely, we know we still have work to do. It's long past time for the Senate to pass reform that increases transparency in policing practices and improves conduct and training, including banning chokeholds. As we continue to strive towards true justice, today we also renew our commitment to securing George Floyd's legacy—not only as the man whose death revealed grave inequity in our justice system—but as the man whose memory inspires us to create a better world for generations to come."
Rep. Ilhan Omar also released a statement following news of Chauvin's sentencing.
"True justice will require us as a community and as a nation to address the systems of oppression that create the conditions for injustice. True justice will require us to understand how those who take an oath to protect us repeatedly take the lives of young Black and brown people. True justice will require us to ask why we continue to spend billions on increasingly militarized police departments, while basic needs like healthcare, housing and hunger are neglected. True justice will mean addressing decades of economic and social neglect of our most vulnerable people by local, state and federal government institutions," she said.
Watch continuing coverage of Chauvin's sentencing on CBSN Minnesota.
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