(Saint Paul) Former police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Thursday to 21 years in prison by the federal justice of the United States for having asphyxiated the African-American George Floyd with his knee.
The 46-year-old former agent had already been sentenced for murder to 22 and a half years in prison by the justice of the State of Minnesota, but he appealed the sentence.
The federal sentence for “violation of civil rights” of the black forties, is, for its part, final since it results from a plea agreement.
It can be served at the same time as the other sentence, said Judge Paul Magnuson of the Saint-Paul court, giving him credit for the seven months already spent in detention.
“I don’t know why you did this, but placing your knee on someone’s neck until they die is wrong.” And for that, you must be severely punished, ”explained the magistrate to him.
During a short intervention, Derek Chauvin wished the children of George Floyd to “succeed in life”, without apologizing or expressing the slightest remorse.
His mother Carolyn Pawlenty assured that he was not a heartless racist, before adding “all lives matter, whatever their skin color”, hijacking the slogan Black Lives Matter (black lives matter).
Called to the bar, the deceased’s brother, Philonise Floyd, demanded “the maximum sentence” against Derek Chauvin, saying he had not slept since the tragedy.
On May 25, 2020, this seasoned Minneapolis police officer had remained kneeling on the African-American’s neck for almost ten minutes, indifferent to the interventions of panicked passers-by and the groans of George Floyd.
The scene, filmed and posted online, sparked huge protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and beyond.
During a well-attended trial in Minnesota state justice in the spring of 2021, his lawyer pleaded that George Floyd died of an overdose, combined with health problems, and assured that Derek Chauvin had done justified use of force.
He had not convinced the jurors and the former police officer had been found guilty of murder and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. He appealed against this verdict.
At the same time, federal justice had opened its own proceedings by indicting him, as well as his three former colleagues, for “violation of the constitutional rights” of George Floyd, more particularly “the right not to be the victim of an unreasonable use of force by a policeman”.
These “double” lawsuits are authorized in the United States, but relatively rare, and reflect the importance of this file which has reopened a fiery debate on the racist past of the United States.
Not the first incident
In the federal case, he first pleaded not guilty, before changing strategy in December 2021, admitting some responsibility for the first time.
In his admission of guilt, he admitted to having used force, “knowing it was wrong”, and “without legal justification”.
He had also acknowledged wrongdoing in the violence inflicted on a 14-year-old black teenager in 2017, whom he had kept on the ground under his knee for a quarter of an hour.
“I hope he will use the time in front of him to think about what he could have done differently,” commented the young man, John Pope, during the hearing on Thursday.
In exchange for his admission of wrongdoing, it was agreed that Derek Chauvin would serve his sentence in a federal prison rather than the state’s maximum security prison, where he is currently being held in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners. .
The other three agents, who remained passive during the ordeal of George Floyd, were found guilty in February in federal justice, but their sentence has not yet been pronounced.
State justice also charged them with complicity in murder. One of them, Thomas Lane pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on September 21. The trial of the other two, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, is due to start on October 24.