After deliberating for just over 10 hours, the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty for the murder of unarmed Black man George Floyd last May.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He was found guilty on all counts. His sentencing is scheduled in eight weeks.
The verdict by the 12 jurors, six white and six Black or multiracial, followed three weeks of testimony by dozens of witnesses and hours of video footage of Floyd’s final minutes of life. Chauvin, who invoked the Fifth Amendment, did not testify.
“GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!” – Ben Crump
In closing statements on April 19, prosecutor Steve Schleicher implored the jury to use common sense.
“What you saw, you saw,” he said. “This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video.”
Schleicher added that Chuavin “had to know” that Floyd’s life was in danger, yet continued pinning him to the street for over nine minutes “with the unyielding pavement beneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down.”
Speaking to reporters outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis after the verdict, Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross, who delivered emotional testimony during the first week of the trial, said that “this is a huge day for the world.”
“We’re finally starting to see,” she said. “We walked around with eyes wide shut for a long time, so they’re starting to open today, and this is going to be the first in a future of change. For me, it means that my friends and people that have also lost loved ones now have a chance to get their cases reopened.”
Ross added that Floyd brought change.
“He changed my world. He changed the world. He changed everybody,” she said.
“330 days to confirm what we already knew. 330 days of reliving the trauma of George’s murder, fearing that the system would let us down again, and mourning so many more Black Lives that we lost. For a murder witnessed by millions.” – Black Lives Matter
Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell said at a April 20 press conference that “no verdict can bring George Perry Floyd back to us, but this verdict does give a message to his family that he was somebody, that his life mattered, that all of our lives matter. And that’s important. I also hope that this verdict… will help us further along the road toward a better humanity.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said at the press conference that “it’s time to transform the relationship between community and the people who are sworn to protect them from one that is mistrustful, suspicious — and in some case terrifying — into one that is empathetic, compassionate, and affirming.”
“That will benefit everyone, including police officers, who deserve to serve in a profession that is honored,” he added.
Civil rights advocates said that the verdict was but one step in the direction of racial justice.
“While today’s verdict is a small win for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed George to be murdered, ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much, remain fully intact.” – ACLU
Just before the verdict was announced, the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights said in a statement that “a guilty verdict on its own will not deliver the kind of justice that will truly keep our communities safe.”
“Since the Chauvin trial began on March 29, cops have killed an average of three people each day, and more than half of the victims are Black and Latinx,” the group said. “Protestors marching in the wake of the deaths of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo were met with police wielding assault rifles, tear gas, and military-grade protective gear.”
“The Chauvin trial has not stopped the now-familiar cycle of police committing harm, then responding to demands for justice with more violence,” it added. “The conviction of Derek Chauvin will not prevent police violence.”
“George Floyd will never again play games with his daughter, Gianna. He’ll never go on walks through the park with his fiancée, Courteney. He will never play basketball with his brother, Philonise. True justice would mean George Floyd was never killed in the first place.” – ACLU
Rashad Robinson, president of the advocacy group Color of Change, said in a statement that the “fight for racial justice continues.”
“Nine minutes and 29 seconds will forever be supplanted in our hearts and memory,” said Robinson, referring to the amount of time Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck. He continued:
“Now we must look at the road ahead. Our fight for racial justice continues as we fight to fundamentally alter a system that continues to threaten, harm, and kill Black people. So we use this moment to push for real change because the fight for accountability and justice in America is far from over. The Chauvin trial may be over, but what comes next will be the consequential moment in our history. We need to do more than raise our voices; we must demand action now. “
In the hours before the verdict was announced, protesters outside the courthouse chanted “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans as some of the more than 3,000 National Guard troops deployed to the Twin Cities area stood by barriers and barbed wire.
The verdict came amid a wave of public outrage over the police killings of unarmed Black and Latinx men and boys, including Daunte Wright in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who had his hands raised in the air when he was shot by a Chicago police officer.
Originally published on CommonDreams.org as Chauvin Guilty on All Counts, Including Murder of George Floyd