• Santosh Ninan


Updated: Jul 26, 2021

"I want to play with him, have fun, go to the playground."

Gianna Floyd

A little after 3:00 PM central time on June 25, 2021, a judge in Minneapolis said these words:

".... this is based on the abuse of your position of trust and authority and the particular cruelty showed to George Floyd."

What was based on the above factors?

A sentence of 22.5 years in prison for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Is this a fair sentence?

Does it fit the crime of murder?

The prosecution wanted 30 years.

The defense wanted probation and time served - which is laughable. I wonder if they knew they had lost and decided to ask for the minimum anyway.

Chauvin will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years.

I have had several friends contact me and express their disgust at this sentence, saying it is far from justice. That Chauvin should have been sentenced to far more.

Let's place Chauvin's sentence in historical context. In 1991 4 Los Angeles police officers beat Rodney King for at least 1 minute and 19 seconds. Two officers each delivered over 50 blows with their batons to Rodney King. This beating was caught on video.

Despite evidence of the assault AND the police chief at the time (Darryl Gates) recommending charges of assault and use of deadly force be brought against the officers, all 4 officers were acquitted. This lit a fuse of pent-up rage in the African American community in Los Angeles which sparked days of rioting.

Fast forward 30 years. We have a police officer caught on video using excessive force on a black suspect. But, instead of following historical precedent, he is given over half of the sentence the prosecution had asked for.

So, in 30 years, America has moved from acquitting officers videotaped beating a man to sentencing an officer for 22.5 years caught on video killing a man.

Progress? Not enough? Too slow? Probably - but still - progress.

Culture change requires we play the long game and take the wins as they come. This was a win for justice.

7-year-old Gianna Floyd (his daughter) spoke at the sentencing:

"I ask about him all the time,"

"I want to play with him, have fun, go to the playground."

Someone in the video asks Gianna what she would tell her father if she could see him again.

"It would be I miss you and I love you,"

She will never play with her father.

She will never have fun with her father.

She will never go to the playground with her father.

She will spend the rest of her life with a father-sized hole.

Derek Chauvin did not just kill a man.

He traumatized a family, a nation, and the whole world.

He also orphaned a 7-year-old girl.

As Gianna grows up, she will learn that her father's death was not in vain.

Justice was served.

And he sparked a global movement to end racism.

Those lost experiences of fun and playing that she had hoped for will be replaced with many sad days and nights, that hopefully will be tempered by Floyd's lasting legacy of raising up a whole army of people who denounce racial injustice.

Those are all positive things.

I just wish he didn't have to be killed for them to happen.

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