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President Biden said Friday that Derek Chauvin’s sentence of 22 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd “seems to be appropriate.”
“I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered, but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate,” Biden told reporters when he was asked for his reaction to the sentencing during an Oval Office meeting with Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani.
Under state law, Chauvin will be required to serve one-third of his sentence before he is eligible for supervised release.
Chauvin was found guilty in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
The former police officer is seen in a video of the arrest kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, persisting even after Floyd became unconscious.
Prosecutors for the state of Minnesota had requested a 30-year prison sentence, saying in a sentencing memo that it “would properly account for the profound impact of Defendant’s conduct on the victim, the victim’s family, and the community.”
State prosecutors asked for a tougher sentence than Minnesota guidelines prescribe, citing five aggravating factors.
Judge Peter Cahill ruled that four of the five factors were proven beyond a reasonable doubt: Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority; he treated Floyd with particular cruelty; children were present during the offense; and Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other people.
In April, Biden said he was “praying for the right verdict,” which he implied was that Chauvin be found guilty.
After the guilty verdict, Biden said he believed it could be a “moment of significant change.”
“We can’t leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done,” he said at the time. “We have to listen, ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ Those were George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him.”
The president has also called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.