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Local leaders react to sentencing of Derek Chauvin in murder of George Floyd

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will serve 22 and a half years in prison.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Another moment of closure came Friday afternoon when a judge sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to 22 and a half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. 

Local 5's sister station KARE 11 reported Judge Peter Cahill considered the prosecution's request for 30 years, several aggravating factors and the defense's request for a lesser sentence--as low as probation--before making his decision. 

Floyd's loved ones also read victim impact statements for the judge to consider.

The sentencing was in Minneapolis, but eyes from across the world peered into the sentencing. 

Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said Friday's sentencing sends an important message.

"But I will say that there was a little trepidation in terms of how much time he might get that it was whether or not it would be meaningful, and also whether or not, you know, again, behind kind of the iconic George Floyd, there is a human there is a father, there is a family member," Andrews said.

She said she would have preferred the maximum sentence of 30 years, but that 22 years is "more than just a slap on the wrist, and that's a good sign." 

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"Sadly, justice would be Floyd being alive and here with his family," said Justyn Lewis, founder of Des Moines' Selma.

However, he was satisfied with the sentence Chauvin received.

"I think if our justice system can consistently give out those types of sentences, I think it will prevent folks from continuing doing what they're doing to black males and black bodies here in America," said Lewis, who is also running for Des Moines City Council.

State Rep. Ras Smith (D-Waterloo) agrees the verdict brings accountability, but he says it also highlights the work that still needs to be done in the criminal justice system.

"I've seen people go to jail for non-violent crimes for much longer. I think as a country we really have to recognize how loudly that unfairness sounds across the nation in this moment. It rings loudly," said Rep. Smith, who is running to be Iowa's next governor.

Chauvin's sentence is a rare one for police officers. Only nine others have received prison sentences for murder on the job in the last 16 years.

He is expected to appeal the ruling. The former officer also faces federal civil charges, as do the three other officers charged in connection with the murder.

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