ST. PAUL, Minn — A white Minneapolis police officer whose murder of a Black man outside a convenience store touched off protests around the world was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison on Thursday, in a case that signaled a new readiness to hold police officers criminally accountable for misconduct.
The former officer, Derek Chauvin, 46, was sentenced for using excessive force under color of law against both George Floyd, the man who died in the encounter, and a 14-year-old boy, also Black, who was injured in an unrelated, though similar, incident.
With time already served deducted, Mr. Chauvin’s sentence amounts to 20 years and five months, near the lower end of the range of 20 to 25 years prescribed by the sentencing guidelines. His federal and state sentences are to be served concurrently.
encounter with Mr. Floyd in May 2020 became a stark example of police brutality and stirred up demands for racial equity in hundreds of cities. During an attempt to arrest Mr. Floyd for passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store, Mr. Chauvin pinned Mr. Floyd to the street for more than nine minutes, using a knee to press down his neck while Mr. Floyd protested, “I can’t breathe.” The Minneapolis Police Department initially claimed that he had died in a “medical incident.”
In the federal plea agreement, Mr. Chauvin acknowledged using excessive force against Mr. Floyd and, in a similar incident in 2017, a teenager named John Pope, whose mother reported that he had assaulted her. Although Mr. Pope “made no aggressive moves” toward the officers who responded, according to the agreement, Mr. Chauvin hit him repeatedly with a flashlight and pinned him down with a knee for more than 15 minutes.
“I was treated like I was not a human being at the hands of Derek Chauvin,” Mr. Pope said at the sentencing hearing in a St. Paul courtroom on Thursday. “He made a choice and didn’t care about the outcome. By the grace of God I lived to see another day.”
three other officers were accused of playing a role in Mr. Floyd’s death. Tou Thao, a veteran officer who was Mr. Chauvin’s partner, held back a group of bystanders. J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane helped pin down Mr. Floyd. The four men have been involved in several proceedings.