MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — The mother of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin told the judge during his sentencing that her son is a “quiet, thoughtful, honorable and selfless man.”
She didn’t mention Floyd by name.
“Derek has played over and over in his head the events of that day,” Pawlenty said. “I’ve seen the toll it has taken on him. I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me. I will not be able to see Derek, talk to him on the phone or give him our special hug.”
She told Judge Peter Cahill that Chauvin “has a big heart.”
“My son’s identity has also been reduced to that as a racist,” she said. “I want this court to know that none of these things are true and that my son is a good man.”
People outside the courthouse shook their heads and gasped in exasperation as Chauvin’s mother spoke. They broke into chants of “No justice, no peace!” as Chauvin’s mother concluded her statement.
One of Floyd’s brothers, Philonise Floyd, said of Pawlenty’s remarks: “I understand that because that’s her son.”
“The same way she spoke up for her son, I spoke up for my brother,” he said. “So we all, we all love our loved ones. But the fact that I will never see my brother again is worse because she still will have the opportunity to see her son in the cell anytime she wants to.”
Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton said that while he respects Chauvin’s mother, Chauvin didn’t respect Floyd.
“The one that seemed not to understand the bond between a mother and son, when a son would call for his mother that was no longer alive, was not the Floyd family. It was her son, Derek, because that did not make him stop when he heard a man call for his mother,” Sharpton said.
Before sentencing Chauvin, Judge Cahill told George Floyd’s family members that “I acknowledge and hear the pain that you’re feeling.”
In imposing the punishment, Cahill went beyond the 12 1/2-year sentence prescribed under state guidelines, citing “your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty” shown to Floyd.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for up to 9 1/2 minutes as the 46-year-old Black man gasped that he couldn’t breathe and went limp on May 25, 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.