Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all the three criminal charges in the murder of George Floyd last summer, which has sparked protests, violence, and furies over racism and policing in the United States and around the world.
Chauvin, a 45-year-old white man now removed from his duty as a police officer, was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, choking Floyd to death, as the prone and handcuffed black man gasped for air during the final moment of his life.
After just over 10 hours of deliberation, a jury comprising six white people and six black or multiracial people, returned its verdicts on all the three charges, which Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to. The verdict was read aloud by Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, and who soon afterwards granted the motion by the prosecution to have Chauvin’s bail revoked.
Chauvin, who had been free on bail during the trial, and who was listening in the courtroom as his verdict was announced, was remanded into custody with handcuffs. Cahill said Chauvin’s sentencing is expected in eight weeks. The maximum prison sentence for second-degree murder is 40 years. Third-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 25 years while second-degree manslaughter has a maximum jail term of 10 years.
Between now and the day when the sentencing is announced, the court would look at written arguments from Chauvin “within one week” and issue factual findings on them, according to Cahill.Then the court will order a pre-sentencing investigation report, “returnable in four weeks,” followed by a briefing on the pre-sentencing investigation report six weeks from now, Cahill said.It was not immediately clear whether Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, would appeal.
People gathering near the court and around Minneapolis burst into jubilation, running with banners and blaring car horns as they heard the verdict. At a news conference attended by Floyd’s family members, Ben Crump, the family attorney, said the verdict marked “a victory for those who champion humanity over inhumanity, those who champion justice over injustice, those who champion morals over immorality.” “We are able to breathe again,” said Philonise Floyd, one of George Floyd’s younger brothers, holding back his tears.
At the site where Floyd was killed, now known as George Floyd Square, the crowd reacted with cheers and sobs, raising their fists up in the sky and chanting Floyd’s name.President Joe Biden delivered remarks on the verdict from the White House, saying while Chauvin’s conviction “can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” the nation “can’t stop here.” He called systemic racism “a stain on our nation’s soul.” “Let’s also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare,” Biden said. “For so many people, it seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors … for the judicial system to deliver just basic accountability.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, whose remarks preceded Biden’s, expressed a sigh of relief.”Still, it can’t take away the pain. A measure of justice is not the same as equal justice,” she said. “This verdict brings us a step closer. And the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system.” Biden and Harris called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.