Derek Chauvin Given 22 Years: Is This the End?
2020 was one of the most memorable years to date, and not just because of the pandemic and presidential election. That is because, towards the latter part of the year, the death of George Floyd occurred on the streets of Minneapolis. This caused the entire nation to erupt in anger as the death was seen as unjust. Protests popped up across the nation, and both protestors and politicians called for immediate action towards the police officer involved. That officer was former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. The issue quickly became one of the most divisive topics of the year, with some stating that it was not his fault while others pointed at the mere mention of a debate as being proof of systemic racism.
On Friday, June 25, 2021, Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years and a half for the death of George Floyd. The charges included second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin was given a 199-day credit for time served while his trial was ongoing. After the sentencing was read, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill took some time to speak about what had just occurred. Cahill stated that the sentencing was not made out of "emotion or sympathy." Furthermore, although he felt for the family of George Floyd, his decision was not made to agree with public opinion nor send any type of message. For Chauvin, 22 years may seem like a devastating sentence, but it could have been much worse. Chauvin was looking at a second-degree murder that carries a 40-year prison sentence and other charges that would have added 25 years more to that. Of course, the family of George Floyd was requesting the maximum amount.
Why Life Was Not Given
One of the most common questions regarding the sentencing of Derek Chauvin was the question of why he was not sentenced to life behind bars. Understandably, this was a very real concern for many who may not have delved too deep into cases where an individual has died. Although Chauvin did take part in the death of George Floyd, the most severe penalty (life in prison or death) cannot be added nor requested because there was no intention behind it. Very similar to someone accidentally hitting a pedestrian with a car and killing them. The driver may be found at fault for the accident, but if there was no intent to kill, then the punishment must fit the crime. Because Derek Chauvin did not wake up that day and plan to kill George Floyd, there was simply no intent. However, because negligence was a factor, Derek Chauvin would and has been given a harsh punishment (22 years). Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stated that this is the first time a former police officer has been given this long sentence due to an unlawful use of deadly force on a person.
Accountability & Closure
There's no doubt about it; the Floyd family was working day and night to make sure that justice was seen. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump who was the representative for the Floyd family, commented on the sentencing calling it "historic." He added that this court case against a former police officer was a step in the right direction towards holding police officers accountable for their actions. Crump also mentioned that the justice seen today would offer some closure to the nation.
Reaction Across the Nation
The eyes of the nation were on today's sentencing. This, of course, prompted many reactions. One of those came from civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton who said that although the right actions have been taken, it doesn't quite amount to justice. That is because George Floyd today rests within a grave while Derek Chauvin will be sitting in prison.
So, is this the end to this horrible and shameful chapter in American history? Although the sentencing has been given, Chauvin does have 60 days to appeal his sentence with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Depending on how that appeal goes, it could mean that either Chauvin is placed in jail for good or that a new trial is provided, thus starting everything all over again.