Protesters at a George Floyd solidarity rally in Berlin, 6 June 2020. The African-American's murder sparked a worldwide protest against anti-Black racism. The new UN report sadly finds that deaths of people of African descent during or after interactions with law enforcement continue/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

George Floyd: Killer cop sentenced to long years in prison

Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for killing George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, in May 2020 by a court in Minneapolis. The punishment falls short of prosecutors’ request of a 30-year sentence.

Delivering the verdict on Friday, Judge Peter Cahill said he based his decision on Chauvin’s abuse of his position and the cruelty he showed to his victim.

The sentence “is one of the longest a former police officer has ever received for an unlawful use of deadly force,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said, calling it a “moment of real accountability.”

“For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account,” his statement said.

With Chauvin’s punishment, it added that “we take a significant step forward — something that was unimaginable a very short time ago,” a statement issued by the lawyer of the Floyd family said, adding that the sentence brings healing and accountability.

The back of a demonstrator in front of the US embassy in Berlin on Sunday, 31 May 2020, when several hundred protesters turned out for the second day in a row, holding up signs reading: “Stop killing us” and “Justice for George /Photo: Etinosa Okoro

Floyd’s family and their lawyers also called for Chauvin to be convicted on federal civil rights charges, for using excessive force and ignoring the medical emergency that ended in Floyd’s death, that the white policeman and three of his fellow former officers, are still facing.

In April, a jury had found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty of murdering Floyd. Chauvin was seen on the video pressing his knee onto Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds as Floyd lay facedown on the asphalt outside a convenience store with his hands cuffed behind his back. The police had been called to the store after Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for cigarettes.

The killing triggered massive protests against racial injustice not only in the US but across the globe. The guilty verdict against Chauvin has been hailed as a civil rights victory in America.

Felix Dappah

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