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‘We Got Justice But Not Enough Justice’: George Floyd’s Family Disavows Derek Chauvin’s Sentence

Derek Chauvin is only the 11th police officer to be convicted of an on-duty murder since 2005. 

By Dorian Geiger
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George Floyd’s family voiced mixed reactions to former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's to 22 and a half-year prison sentence last week.

On Friday, Floyd’s relatives gathered, along with attorney Ben Crump and civil rights leader Al Sharpton, to address the media after the sentence was delivered in court.

"We got justice, but not enough justice,” Floyd’s cousin, Brandon Williams, told reporters. 

Williams described Chauvin’s actions as "execution-style in broad daylight." 

"I won't celebrate this," he said. "I won't celebrate it at all. But I will celebrate a guilty conviction of a police officer that killed a Black man. This 22 and a half years just doesn't work for me."

Prosecutors had originally sought 30 years for Floyd’s death. The state’s sentencing guidelines had called for 12.5 years behind bars. 

Judge Peter A. Cahill described the “particular cruelty” of Chauvin’s actions as he handed down the sentence.

“Twenty-two years is not enough," Williams added. "We can't get George back. So in retrospect, I think he should have received a life sentence as well."

George Floyd’s brother, Rodney Floyd, also described the sentence as a “slap on the wrist,” according to The New York Times.

“We're serving a life sentence by not having him in our life,” Rodney Floyd said. “For Gianna, that will mean no time ahead with her dad, no shared conversations between father and daughter, "those wonderful phone calls lighting up her face.”

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Earlier, Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter, Gianna had addressed the court in a pre-recorded video at Chauvin’s sentencing. When asked if she could tell her father anything, Gianna Floyd said “It would be I miss you and I love you.”

"He will never be able to walk Gianna down the aisle and have a wedding, attend those magical moments of her life, like a daddy-daughter dance, Sweet 16 party, sending her out for prom. She will never be able to have any personal memories of her father," Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said.

Chauvin momentarily addressed the court as well as the Floyd family, stating that “additional legal matters at hand” limited his statement. 

“But, very briefly though,” Chauvin said, “I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family.”

On April 20, a jury convicted Chauvin for pinning his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes, killing the 46-year-old father. He was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. 

Disturbing cell phone video of Floyd’s death ignited months of protests in major cities across the country and fueled a nationwide racial reckoning

“This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability,” Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the Floyd family said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com

Crump called Chauvin’s sentence a “significant step forward,” describing it as “unimaginable a very short time ago.”

“For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account,” Crump added. “While this shouldn’t be exceptional, tragically it is. Day after day, year after year, police kill Black people without consequence.”

Each year, approximately 1,000 people are killed in police shootings. Chauvin, however, belongs to a small pool of officers who have faced jail time in the wake of such deaths. Since 2005, only 10 cops have been convicted for an on-duty killing. Chauvin is the eleventh.

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Some legal experts, however, were skeptical the ruling would set a future precedent — or move the needle — when it comes to prosecuting police officers for deadly force.

“Those juries are giving police officers much more credit than the police officers deserve and the legal standard is so high that if the officer claims he or she feared for their life, that’s all that matters,” Gloria Browne-Marshall, a professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told Oxygen.com. “There’s always this sense that the officer had a greater burden...we should be harder on them, not softer.”

Chauvin was employed by the Minneapolis Police Department for 18 years, according to court documents.  

The three other officers accused in Floyd’s killing —  Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — are scheduled to head to trial in March. They’re charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

In May, Chauvin, Kueng, Lane, and Thao were indicted on separate federal civil rights charges in Floyd’s death, according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com. All four officers were fired.

At the earliest, Chauvin could be eligible for parole in 2035 or 2036. He’ll be close to 60-years-old.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, didn’t respond to requests for comment regarding his client’s sentencing on Monday.