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Derek Chauvin found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd

(Court TV via AP, Pool)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 6:04 PM EDT
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck in a case that touched off worldwide protests, violence and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.

Chauvin, 45, could be sent to prison for decades during sentencing.

The jury of six white people and six Black or multiracial ones came back with its verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. Chauvin was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

His bail was immediately revoked and he was led away with his hands cuffed behind his back. Sentencing will be in two months.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released a statement in response to the verdict, saying the need for reform is demonstrated by the Floyd case.

“For too long, fear and brutality have been at the heart of how some individuals in law enforcement view their roles within our communities,” Nessel wrote. “The result has had devastating consequences for residents, and particularly the Black community and other communities of color.”

Governor Whitmer also released a statement, stressing what the case could mean to the Floyd family and in the larger context of American society.

“For George Floyd and his family, justice. For the rest of us, a reminder to continue pushing for justice in every corner of our society,” Whitmer wrote. “My heart is with George Floyd’s family, and I want them to know that millions of Michiganders, Minnesotans, and Americans mourn with them. No verdict can bring George back, but his legacy will live on.”

Janay Henry, who lives near the area where Floyd was killed, said she felt grateful and relieved.

“I feel grounded. I can feel my feet on the concrete,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to the “next case with joy and optimism and strength.”

An ecstatic Whitney Lewis leaned halfway out a car window in a growing traffic jam of revelers waving a Black Lives Matter flag. “Justice was served,” the 32-year-old from Minneapolis said. “It means George Floyd can now rest.”

The verdict was read in a courthouse ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire and patrolled by National Guard troops, in a city on edge against another round of unrest — not just because of the Chauvin case but because of the deadly police shooting of a young Black man, Daunte Wright, in a Minneapolis suburb April 11.

The jurors identities were kept secret and will not be released until the judge decides it is safe to do so.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 after being arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market. He panicked, pleaded that he was claustrophobic and struggled with police when they tried to put him in a squad car. They put him on the ground instead.

The centerpiece of the case was the excruciating bystander video of Floyd gasping repeatedly, “I can’t breathe” and onlookers yelling at Chauvin to stop as the officer pressed his knee on or close to Floyd’s neck for what authorities say was 9 1/2 minutes. Floyd slowly went silent and limp.

Prosecutors played the footage at the earliest opportunity, during opening statements, with Jerry Blackwell telling the jury: “Believe your eyes.” And it was shown over and over, analyzed one frame at a time by witnesses on both sides.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, demonstrations and scattered violence broke out in Minneapolis, around the country and beyond. The furor also led to the removal of Confederate statues and other offensive symbols such as Aunt Jemima.

In the months that followed, numerous states and cities restricted the use of force by police, revamped disciplinary systems or subjected police departments to closer oversight.

The “Blue Wall of Silence” that often protects police accused of wrongdoing crumbled after Floyd’s death: The Minneapolis police chief quickly called it “murder” and fired all four officers, and the city reached a staggering $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family as jury selection was underway.

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist said, “Today, justice was served for George Floyd and his family. As a Black man in America, I have felt the sting of racism and injustice personally, and too many of our brothers and sisters know the visceral pain and exhaustion that communities of color face every day,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “This verdict is a good outcome, and it was made possible by the community organizers, faith leaders, and law enforcement officers, who had to courage to make their voices heard, but the work is not done.”

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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