A panel of jurors has found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges in connection with the May 2020 death of George Floyd, after one of the most closely watched criminal trials in recent memory.
Chauvin, 45, was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. With Americans on edge as they awaited the verdict, the jury announced that it has found him guilty across the board.
His bail was immediately revoked and he was led away with his hands cuffed behind his back. Cheers and cars honking could be heard outside the Hennepin County Courthouse as the verdict was read.
Chauvin’s sentencing is schedule for eight weeks from now, the judge said. He could be sent to prison for decades.
t took the jury about 10 hours and 20 minutes to reach a decision, which was read late in the afternoon in a city on edge regarding the possibility of more unrest like that that erupted last spring.
The courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers were brought in ahead of the verdict. Some businesses were boarded up with plywood.
The jury was made up of seven women and five men. Six jurors were White, four were Black and two identified as multiracial. Jurors were sequestered, their whereabouts kept secret, during deliberations that began Monday afternoon.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020 after Chauvin held his knee against his upper body for nine minutes and 29 seconds, as a handcuffed Floyd repeatedly said that he could not breathe.
Police were called to the area on that day for a report that Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a neighborhood convenience store, Cup Foods.
His death prompted widespread protests, which lasted months, and calls for an end to police brutality and systemic racism.
During the trial, the jury heard from high-ranking Minneapolis police officials, loved ones of Floyd, bystanders, an officer who also responded to the scene and medical experts — some of whom presented dueling opinions.
The case boiled down to two key questions: whether Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and whether his actions were reasonable. Each charge required a different element of proof as to Chauvin’s state of mind.
For all three charges, prosecutors had to prove that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and that his use of force was unreasonable.
Prosecutors didn’t have to prove Chauvin’s restraint was the sole cause of Floyd’s death, but only that his conduct was a “substantial causal factor.” Chauvin is authorized to use force as a police officer, as long as that force is reasonable.
The defense argued that the now-fired White officer acted reasonably and that the 46-year-old Floyd died of a heart condition and illegal drug use.
Each count carried a different maximum sentence: 40 years for second-degree unintentional murder, 25 years for third-degree murder, and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.
Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, for a person with no criminal history, each murder charge carried a presumptive sentence of 12.5 years in prison, while manslaughter has a presumptive sentence of four years.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, President Joe Biden weighed in by saying he believes the case is “overwhelming.”
He said that he had spoken to Floyd’s family on Monday and “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling.”
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”