Wearing a striped headband adorned with a large bow, George Floyd's 7-year-old daughter delivered an emotional message Friday afternoon via video during victim impact statements preceding the sentencing of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering Floyd last year.
“I ask about him all the time,” Gianna Floyd said of her father. “I ask ‘How did my dad get hurt?”
Gianna was the first of four family members who addressed Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill prior to the sentencing. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years.
When heard consecutively, the statements including those of Floyd’s two brothers and a nephew, painted a clear picture of a family torn apart by trauma and grief, forced to relive the very public murder of their loved one over and over again.
“We used to have dinner meals every single night before we went to bed,” Gianna said in her video, before adding that she misses brushing her teeth with her dad’s help.
When asked what she would tell her father if she could see him again, she simply answered: “I miss you and I love him.”
In his statement, Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams said it is not “humanly possible” for him to convey the full weight of his family’s loss. Floyd’s “sudden murder forever traumatized us,” he told the court.
“It has been truly unimaginable,” he said. “But not nearly unimaginable as the defendant’s decision to take the life of a human being with no regard for the effect it may have on others.”
“Our family is forever broken,” he added.
Floyd’s brothers, Philonise and Terrence Floyd, addressed Cahill directly, pleading for him to give Chauvin the maximum possible sentence.
Terrence Floyd said his family is now begrudgingly part of a fraternity of people whose loved ones have died at the hands of police. He wanted to know what Chauvin was thinking when he kept his knee on his brother’s neck and why he didn’t stand up after Floyd was arrested.
But the hardest part of his brother’s murder, he said, was that he has to explain to his own young daughter why her uncle is gone. About a month before Floyd’s murder, the two brothers had been planning playdates for their daughters. Instead, the family had to endure Floyd’s death, the subsequent national protests and Chauvin’s trial.
Taking deep breaths and pausing to gather himself, he added that his family doesn’t want to see “no more slaps on the wrist.”
“We've been through that already, in my community and in my culture we’ve been through that already,” Terrence said. “If the roles were reversed ... there would have been no case. It would have been open and shut. We would have been in jail for murdering somebody.”
Philonise Floyd echoed much of his brother’s words, repeatedly taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes and telling the court that he suffers from insomnia.
“I haven't had a real night's sleep because of the nightmares I have hearing my brother beg for his life over and over again,” he said. “For an entire year, I have had to relive George being tortured to death.”
Despite his own grief, Philonise said he continues to speak publicly so his brother's death “would not be in vain.”
“George’s life mattered,” he said before pleading with the judge. “Please help us find closure.”