Derek Chauvin has used brief comments at his sentencing hearing to offer condolences to George Floyd’s family, and said he hopes more will come out in the future that gives them “some peace of mind”.
Chauvin spoke for less than a minute but with a possible appeal and a federal case still pending, experts were not surprised the 45-year-old kept his comments to a minimum.
The white former Minneapolis officer was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison for pressing his knee to George Floyd’s throat for up to nine-and-a-half minutes on May 25 2020, as the black man gasped that he could not breathe before dying.
Chauvin wore a grey suit, grey tie and a white shirt rather than the jail-issued jumpsuit with permission from the judge.
He said that due to other pending legal matters he was “unable to give a full formal statement”.
“But briefly, I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said. He added that he hopes other information that will come out later “will give you some peace of mind”.
Joe Friedberg, a defence lawyer, said Chauvin was trying to avoid saying anything that could haunt him in a pending federal case.
He is still awaiting trial on federal civil rights charges over Floyd’s death, along with three other fired officers who have yet to have their state trials.
“There’s nothing he can say that could help himself, so why would he say anything?” Mr Friedberg asked.
Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender in the Twin Cities, noted that Chauvin also avoided any comment that could hurt a possible appeal of the conviction.
“I was actually surprised he expressed condolences to the family,” Ms Moriarty said. “There was nothing of that nature in the defence memo at all indicating that he had any empathy at all for the family. I guess I was surprised because we haven’t seen that from him before.”
Chauvin had been silent since Floyd’s death. He opted not to testify at his trial, where he was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.