After deliberating for four hours on Monday and six and a half hours on Tuesday, the jury found disgraced former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges for the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin was convicted of committing second-degree manslaughter, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin could spend up to seventy-five years in prison.
Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks.
It was the first time a white police officer was convicted of murder in the State of Minnesota.
Upon being found guilty on all charges, prosecutors asked that Chauvin’s bail be revoked, which was granted by the judge. Chauvin showed little emotion as the judge read the jury’s verdict. His stoic reaction to the verdict was emblematic of the entire trial in general. After the judge denied bail, Chauvin, nodded his head, stood up, and placed his hands behind his back to be handcuffed — as though he had rehearsed it.
Chauvin was escorted from the courtroom to the Hennepin County Jail when proceedings concluded. Chauvin was free on bond before the reading of the verdict.
On March 12th, the City of Minneapolis paid George Floyd’s family $27 million in civil damages. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called the agreement a milestone for Minneapolis’s future.
Many legal experts believed it would be difficult to seat an impartial jury given the unbelievable notoriety the case garnered. Ultimately, the 12 jurors and three alternates selected for the panel are three Black men, one Black woman, and two multiracial jurors. 50% of the panel that sealed Chauvin’s fate are Black or multiracial.
Hennepin County, where the trial was held, is only 17% Black or multiracial, while it is 74% white.
On March 31st, Darnella Frazier, 17, recorded the video that went viral on May 25, 2020, as Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck. She said during the trial seeing Floyd reminded her of her brothers and uncles.
“When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles,” Frazier said. She said she has stayed up some nights “apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”
But, she said, “it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he (Chauvin) should have done.”
Frazier would write on Facebook and Instagram that Mr. Chauvin “deserves to go down” and wondered openly “what else got covered up if it was no evidence to see what really happened.”
It set the tone for the dark, ominous, and brutally honest method the prosecution followed as they made their case.
When it was the defense’s turn, they took every liberty to question everything from what drugs Floyd had in his system to the manner Floyd actually died.
While the verdict was what many wanted, justice was not served.
“But let’s be real — this isn’t justice. It’s accountability,” said Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen, D-Atlanta. “Justice would be if George Floyd were still alive.”
Those emotions were echoed by Nguyen’s colleague in the Georgia State Legislature, State Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn.
“I am cautiously and tenuously optimistic that this will send an important message that extra-judicial killing of black people by law enforcement will not go unpunished. I hope it reinforces that police are not above the law.”
The former U.S. President, Barack Obama echoed those sentiments soon thereafter.
“Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more. Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, and we stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said today was the first step toward justice. He spoke to reporters soon after the verdict was read.
“When I became the lead prosecutor for the case, I asked for time and patience to review the facts, gather evidence, and prosecute, for the murder of George Floyd to the fullest extent the law allows,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “I want to thank the community for giving us that time and allowing us to do our work that hard painstaking work has culminated today. I would not call today’s verdict, justice, because justice implies true restoration.”
Ellison urged everyone to honor the legacy of George Floyd in a calm, legal and peaceful manner. He also called for the United States Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael G. Warnock pledged to help pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that promises “to push our system closer to our ideals of equal protection under the law. “
“That’s why reforming policing on the federal level is so imperative, and why Congress must pass legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that will help end this cycle of violence and bend the moral arc of the universe closer to justice,” Warnock said in a statement.
Ultimately, Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, said he could finally get some sleep as he admitted the times are getting harder to deal with.
“I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity to hopefully getting some sleep,” Philonise Floyd said. “Because we’re here and we’re not going anywhere. And I want to thank all the protesters, all the attorneys who stepped up all the activists who stepped up, and many who think they’re not activists but advocates, thank you all, and remember because justice for George means freedom for all.”