Derek Chauvin Was Convicted Of Murdering George Floyd
The Minneapolis jury's verdict came nearly a year after Floyd’s death sparked global calls for justice and months-long demonstrations demanding changes to policing in the U.S. and an end to systemic racism.
A Minneapolis jury found ex-officer Derek Chauvin guilty on Tuesday for the murder of George Floyd. The former officer was convicted of second- and third-degree murder, in addition to second-degree manslaughter.
The second-degree murder charge carries a max sentence of 40 years. The third-degree murder charge carries a max sentence of 25 years. The manslaughter charge carries a max sentence of 10 years.
Judge Peter Cahill ordered Chauvin to remain in custody while he awaits sentencing.
During the more than three-week trial, the prosecution made its case against Chauvin, 45, from multiple angles. Prosecuting attorneys called fellow police officers to testify that Chauvin’s use of force during Floyd’s May 2020 arrest was excessive. Several medical experts testified that Floyd died from lack of oxygen. Bystanders and eyewitnesses from the incident, including 18-year-old Darnella Frazier whose video of Floyd’s arrest ignited worldwide protests, were also called.
Chauvin’s defense team tried to argue that his use of force was reasonable and that Floyd potentially died due to poor health or drug use. Chauvin opted to remain silent during his trial after invoking the Fifth Amendment.
While speaking to the press in the Oval Office on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said that he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict” in the Chauvin trial and called the evidence against the ex-cop “overwhelming.” Cities across the U.S. have been preparing for demonstrations as a result of the verdict, and thousands of National Guard troops were already stationed in Minneapolis. Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Walz (D) also declared a state of emergency.
Closing arguments finished Monday in the trial, marking its fourth week, where each side gave more than two hours of final remarks. The prosecution made the case to jurors that Chauvin violated police department policy and betrayed the badge, with co-prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher saying, “This wasn’t policing. This was murder.”
The prosecution’s closing words were: “You were told Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. After seeing the evidence, you know Mr. Floyd died because Derek Chauvin’s heart was too small.” The defense focused on sowing doubt on whether Chauvin’s use of force was reasonable.
After arguments concluded Monday, Judge Cahill instructed the jury to be “absolutely fair” and not “hesitate to reexamine” views as well as discuss with fellow jurors, all of whom were sequestered.
Given the rarity of police officers facing conviction for misconduct in the U.S., legal experts have recognized that presenting multiple charges increased the chances of a guilty verdict. In late March, prosecutors opened with graphic video footage showing Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a Black man who repeatedly said “I can’t breathe,” for more than nine minutes.
The defense focused on drugs found in Floyd’s system and his underlying medical conditions as a cause of his death, also as expected.
Family members of Floyd, attorney Ben Crump, Rev. Al Sharpton, and others knelt silently for nearly nine minutes before the trial began — nearly 10 months after Floyd’s death sparked global calls for justice and months-long demonstrations demanding changes to policing in the U.S. and an end to systemic racism. The proceedings in the case, considered one of the biggest and most contentious in Minnesota history, were broadcast live.
Floyd was 46 years old & a father of five. In March, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay a $27M settlement to Floyd’s family over his death.
Adnan Khan contributed to this report.