MINNEAPOLIS — An attorney for George Floyd’s family said Friday that family members were feeling anxious ahead of a sentencing hearing for former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder and other charges in Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, and he faces a practical maximum of 30 years when he’s sentenced Friday afternoon.
Family attorney Ben Crump told The Associated Press that family members were feeling “anxious and tense.” Floyd’s brother Philonise, his brother Terrence and his nephew Brandon Williams plan to make victim impact statements at Chauvin’s sentencing.
Philonise Floyd often occupied the Floyd family’s assigned seat in the socially distanced courtroom where Chauvin’s trial was held. He also testified as part of prosecutors’ efforts to humanize George Floyd to the jury, recalling their childhood in a poor part of Houston and his brother’s knack for making banana mayonnaise sandwiches.
Philonise Floyd testified last year before Congress in support of a federal overhaul of policing just a day after his older brother’s funeral.
Terrence Floyd, a bus driver in New York, also is a frequent representative for the Floyd family at protests and other events. Last fall, he appeared with Joe Biden in the presidential campaign’s final days and separately joined a push encouraging people to vote.
Brandon Williams too has acted as a representative for the broader Floyd family since his uncle’s death, advocating for a federal overhaul of policing and joining other family members who met with Biden at the White House on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
“To us, George Floyd is a cause. He’s a case; he’s a hashtag. To them — that’s their flesh and blood. You know, that that’s their brother,” Crump said.
Crump also said he wanted to see a sentence above what is typically given for a second-degree murder conviction.
“There was nothing typical about what Derek Chauvin did in torturing George Floyd to death,” Crump said. “So we don’t expect it to be a typical sentence. It needs to be a sentence that sets a new precedent for holding police officers accountable for the unjustifiable killings of Black people in America.”
In Minnesota, the presumptive sentence for second-degree unintentional murder for someone with no criminal record like Chauvin is 12 1/2 years, and the judge could sentence Chauvin to up to 15 years while staying within the guidelines. But Judge Peter Cahill has already found that there are aggravating factors that would allow him to go above the state’s sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year sentence, while Chauvin’s defense has asked for probation.
With Chauvin’s sentencing, the Floyd family is experiencing something that few Black American families have experienced since the advent of professional policing in the U.S. The list of acquittals and mistrials, in the rare cases where officers accused of brutality or misconduct have gone to trial, is longer than the list of those convicted and sentenced.
In recent years, the list of acquittals has included officers tried in the deaths of Philando Castile in suburban Minneapolis, Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and two mistrials over the death of Samuel Dubose in Cincinnati.
“That’s why the world has watched this trial, because it is a rare occurrence,” said Arizona-based civil rights attorney Benjamin Taylor, who has represented victims of police brutality in court. “Everybody knows that this doesn’t happen every day.”
“Black people deserve justice,” said Taylor, who is Black.
Foody reported from Chicago, Morrison from New York.
Find AP’s full coverage of the death of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
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