Former police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis street last year, was handed 22 and half years in prison on Thursday.
Chauvin's sentence, awarded by Minnesota's Hennepin County Court Judge Peter Cahill, one of the longest a former police officer has ever received for the use of deadly force.
Chauvin did not show any emotion after the sentence was pronounced but offered condolences to the family of George Floyd before his punishment was read out. He did not apologize for the offence.
The court rejected Chauvin's argument that killing of George Floyd was "an error made in good faith". Instead, the court found that Chauvin abused his position of trust or authority and treated Floyd with particular cruelty.
Chauvin to Remain in Prison for 15 Years
Chauvin, 45, will serve two-thirds of his sentence, which is 15 years, before he can be out of the prison. He will be eligible for supervised release for the last one-third of the prison term.
The 22-year sentencing exceeded Minnesota's sentencing guideline range of 10 years and eight months. However, the judge said the punishment did not reflect an emotional response to the murder that sparked worldwide protests.
Cahill said he wanted to "acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all of the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family." The Floyd family welcomed the punishment given to Chauvin but they had earlier asked for the maximum sentence of 40 years for the former policeman.
Floyd Family Welcomes Sentence
"This historic sentence brings the Floyd family and our nation one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability," the Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump tweeted.
Meanwhile, Chauvin's mother Carolyn Pawlenty, who was present in the court, said Chauvin was a good man and was innocent. "I have always believed in your innocence and I will never waver from that," Pawlenty said.
Chauvin, in brief comments before the sentencing, said there would be "some other information in the future". He also told the court he hoped the proceedings of the day would "give you some peace of mind".
Act of Particular Cruelty
Judge Cahill wrote a 22-page memorandum handing out the verdict to the former cop. He explained that the harsher sentence was necessitated by two aggravating factors -- Chauvin abused his position of trust or authority and the murder was an act of particular cruelty. Floyd was treated "without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings," the judge wrote.
"Mr. Chauvin's prolonged restraint of Mr. Floyd was also much longer and more painful than the typical scenario in a second-degree or third-degree murder or second-degree manslaughter case," the verdict read.
'I Can't Breathe'
Floyd was killed on May 26 last year. In a video of the incident that was widely circulated on social media, Floyd was heard saying that he "can't breathe" shortly before becoming unresponsive as bystanders urged the officer to get off the man. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.
In the video, George Floyd can be heard moaning and repeatedly saying "I can't breathe" to the officer who has his knee on the man's neck. "Please," the 46-year-old black suspect on the ground pleads. "I can't breathe," and continues to moan.