The jury returned three guilty verdicts against the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd two months ago. Since then, much speculation about Judge Peter Cahill’s sentencing decision. Would he agree with the defense and order probation? Did he agree with the prosecution’s call for 30 years? Finally, on June 25, 2021, the judge sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22.5 years.
Judge Cahill delivered a carefully constructed decision. His demeanor was confident and authoritative, exhibiting a full understanding of his words’ impact on all parties involved. The judge said he reached his decision based solely on the law, not out of anger or sympathy. The sentence does not reflect public sentiment.
Instead of speaking at length, Cahill noted his written decision is a matter of record. The courtroom was silent as they awaited Chauvin’s fate. The defendant, himself, appeared to be hanging on every word and did not show emotion as the judge explained why he was sentencing Floyd’s murderer to 22 and one-half years.
Commentators expressed disappointment that Chauvin would not be in prison for 30 years. Still, they quickly pointed out this is the longest sentence handed down compared to other cases involving rogue police officers.
Outside of the courthouse, noteworthy Black men and women spoke passionately about Chauvin’s sentence and that justice had been served. They called out a fraction of the names of other unarmed Black men and women killed at the hands of police. Below is a partial list of those victims:
- Eric Garner — July 17, 2014.
- Michael Brown — Aug. 9, 2014.
- Tamir Rice — Nov. 22, 2014.
- Walter Scott — April 4, 2015.
- Alton Sterling — July 5, 2016.
- Philando Castile — July 6, 2016.
- Stephon Clark — March 18, 2018.
- Breonna Taylor — March 13, 2020.
- Daunte Wright — April 11, 2021.
- Patrick Warren Sr. — Jan. 14, 2021.
Since 2015, police officers have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black men and women nationwide, an NPR investigation has found. NPR reviewed police, court and other records to examine the details of the cases. At least 75% of the officers were white.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN: Live Broadcast
NPR: Fatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns
BBC: George Floyd: Timeline of black deaths and protests; by Cheryl W. Thompson
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Chad Davis’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License