December 9, 2022

Biden says former police officer Derek Chauvin’s 22.5-year prison sentence for murdering George Floyd “seems appropriate” amid public outcry

A protester holds a George Floyd sign outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis
A protester holds a George Floyd sign outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s 22 ½ year prison sentence for the murder of George Floyd “seems to be appropriate”, said U.S. President Joe Biden, despite it being less than the maximum sentence.

Derek Chauvin led away in handcuffs after his conviction. Pool via Reuters

While Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22 years and six months in prison, he is expected to spend just 15 years behind bars after which he will be eligible for parole.

Minnesota law allowed for 40 years in prison for Chauvin but the prosecution had sought 30 years.

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in April for the May 2020 killing of George Floyd.

The most high-profile American court case in years, the death of a 46-year-old Black man by the name of George Floyd sparked an international movement emphasizing racial justice and brought racial issues to the forefront of national discourse.

Derek Chauvin and Kellie Chauvin

Tens of millions of Americans took to the streets and thousands of demonstrations were held across the United States as part of the Black Lives Matter movement responding to a viral video of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds as the Black man repeatedly called out, “I can’t breathe.”

When asked by reporters about the length of Chauvin’s sentence during a Friday meeting with the President of Afghanistan, President Biden said, “I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered, but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate.”

President Joe Biden prepares remarks regarding the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and resumption of operations, Thursday, May 13, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Despite the President’s comment, Chauvin’s sentence has been met with controversy as some consider it a victory while others are unsatisfied with it.

One of the Floyd family’s top attorneys, Ben Crump, has highlighted the sentence as a victory, tweeting, “This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability.” However, several outspoken members of Floyd’s family have slammed the sentence for not being harsh enough.

“This right here, this 22-year sentence they gave this man, is a slap on the wrist. We’re serving a life sentence not having him in our lives. And that hurts me to death,” said George Floyd’s younger brother, Rodney.

“I won’t celebrate this, but I will celebrate a guilty conviction on a police officer who killed a black man,” said Brandon Williams, George Floyd’s nephew.

While many celebrate the sentencing of George Floyd’s murderer to prison, others cry out saying that it is not enough and there is much more that still needs to be done.

Williams said that the sentence is too light and sends a message that “you can kill a man in cold blood and get a slap on the wrist.”

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