Former police officer Derek Chauvin was just sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for his conviction in the murder of George Floyd. That sentence was hardly a surprise though some suggested that he would be sentenced near to 30 years. It is a fair sentence that adds ten years to the baseline offense due to the four aggravating factors found by the Court. What was surprising was the statement of Chauvin himself to the court and the family.
For first offenders, second-degree murder will often result in 150 months or 12½ years in prison. In 2019, former officer Mohamed Noor was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison after for the third-degree murder and manslaughter of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. However, the aggravators could have pushed the sentence to 30 years. This was a fair and reasonable sentence given his holding a position of authority in the commission of the crime.
What was curious was Chauvin’s statement to the Court:
“Due to legal matters, I’m not able to give a full formal statement … I give my condolences to the Floyd family, there’s gonna be some other information in the future that will be of interest and I hope these will give you some peace of mind.”
That was something of a mystery since any new evidence would hardly bring closure for the family. The only thing that I can imagine would be a plea to the pending federal charges. It is possible for Chauvin to accept a plea with a recommended sentence while continuing his appeal on the state charges. Violating someone’s civil rights is punishable “by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty.”
Chauvin is looking at a precarious and punishing time in prison. Former officers are given special protections but they face ongoing threats against their lives. For Chauvin, those threats will be magnified given his notoriety. He can be placed in special units to avoid the need for continuing segregation but this is a more isolated existence for a former officer.