MINNEAPOLIS — The jury has found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The judge asked each juror if the verdict was correct, thanked them and dismissed them. “I have to thank you, on behalf of the people of the state of Minnesota, for not only jury service, but heavy-duty jury service,” Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said.
He revoked bail and told Chauvin to report back in eight weeks for sentencing. Chauvin, silent and wearing a gray suit and a light blue surgical mask, was handcuffed and taken into custody.
George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd was sitting with his head bowed and his hands folded in front of his face in prayer before the verdict was read. As each verdict was read, his hands increasingly shook and his head nodded up and down.
“I was just praying they would find him guilty. As an African American, we usually never get justice,” Floyd said.
Afterward, Floyd cried and hugged prosecutors, who shook hands with the Minnesota attorney general. One prosecutor wiped away tears.
Chauvin, who is white, was seen on video pinning George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, to the ground with his knee last Memorial Day for over nine minutes after police responded to a report that Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill.
Cellphone video of the incident went viral and touched off months of protests in the U.S. and abroad condemning police brutality and calling for racial justice. The widely watched trial, which began in March with jury selection, was livestreamed – Minnesota’s first criminal case to be televised.
Chauvin faces 12 1/2 years or 150 months in prison under sentencing guidelines for a first-time offender. But, the prosecution argues there are aggravating factors that require a longer prison term. That means Chauvin may face longer than that sentence.
The prosecution rested its case last week after calling 38 witnesses and playing dozens of video clips over the course of 11 days. The defense rested Thursday after calling seven witnesses over two days. Attorneys for both sides presented their closing arguments Monday.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo calls for peace, healing
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo expressed hope for the city in a post-verdict statement Tuesday night while asking for “calm, safety and peace in our communities.”
Arradondo, who took the stand at the opening of the second week of witness testimony, telling the jury that Chauvin “absolutely” violated department policy by using his knee on Floyd’s neck, also thanked jurors and expressed his “respect” for the verdict.
Now, he said, is a time for healing.
“We recognize that our community is hurting, and hearts are heavy with many emotions,” Arradondo said in his statement. “However, I have hope. The community that I was born and raised in and that we serve is resilient and, together, we can find our moment to begin to heal.”
During his testimony, Arradondo said Chauvin should have stopped using the neck restraint “once Mr. Floyd stopped resisting” and “once he was in distress and verbalized it.”
“I vehemently disagree that that’s the appropriate use of force for that situation,” he testified.
Joe Biden: ‘We can’t … look away thinking our work is done’
President Joe Biden said that Tuesday’s verdict signified that “no one should be above the law” but that the work was “not enough” to deliver real reform.
“It can’t stop here. In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and must reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this ever can happen again,” Biden said in his first remarks after the verdict.
He also called on Americans to turn the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin into a “moment of significant change” to fight systemic racism in policing
Biden urged the Senate’s passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – named in Floyd’s honor – that seeks to bolster police accountability and prevent problem officers from moving from one department to another. It would also end certain police practices that have been under scrutiny.
“We can’t leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done. We have to look at it as we did for those nine minutes and 29 seconds,” he said, referring to the length of time that Chauvin had his knee pinned on Floyd’s head. “We have to listen. ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ “
“Those were George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.”
George Floyd’s nephew calls verdict ‘a pivotal moment for America’
Members of the Floyd family and their lawyers spoke after the verdicts Tuesday.
“We don’t find pleasure in this. We don’t celebrate a man going to jail. We would rather George be alive,” Rev. Al Sharpton said. “The war and the fight is not over,” Sharpton said, referencing the funeral Thursday of Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by a police officer in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, earlier this month.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said the verdict in was a pivitol moment in the “legacy of America.”
“America, let’s frame this moment as a moment where we finally are getting close to living up to our Declaration of Independence – that we hold these truths to be self-evident,” he said. “We frame this moment for all of us, not just for George Floyd.”
Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, echoed Crump’s comments, calling the day “a pivotal moment for America.”
“It’s something this country has needed for a long time now,” Williams said. “We need police reform bad.”
Meanwhile, in South Dakota, George Floyd’s uncle, Selwyn Jones, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader of the USA TODAY Network: “Hallelujah. Something had to be done.”
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison calls verdict ‘the first step toward justice’
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke to Americans following the verdict. He thanked residents for giving prosecutors the time they needed to prosecute the case.
“I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice,” he said
Ellison urged residents to continue to remember George Floyd “calmly, legally and peacefully.”
To the Floyd family, Ellison said he hoped the verdict was “another step toward long healing.”
“There’s no replacing your beloved Perry, or Floyd as his friends called him,” Ellison said. “But he is the one who sparked a worldwide movement, and that’s important.”
Ellison invoked the names of several other Americans killed by police. “We need true justice. That’s not one case. That is a social transformation,” he said, adding, “Today, we have to end this travesty of recurring, enduring deaths at the hands of law enforcement.”
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell used the words of the late Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, as he thanked the prosecution team of tackling the “good trouble” of the Chauvin trial.
“No verdict can bring George Perry Floyd back to us. But this verdict does give a message to his family,” Blackwell said. “That he was somebody. That his life mattered. That all of our lives matter. And that’s important.”
Prosecutor Matthew Frank said: “This is for you, George Floyd, and for your family and friends.”
NAACP: ‘No amount of justice will bring back Gianna’s father’
Statements from organizations came in moments after the verdict was announced, including from the NAACP and the National Movement for Black Lives.
“While justice has landed Derek Chauvin behind bars for murdering George Floyd, no amount of justice will bring back Gianna’s father,” said NAACP president Derrick Johnson.
“The same way a reasonable police officer would never suffocate an unarmed man to death, a reasonable justice system would recognize its roots in white supremacy and end qualified immunity. Police are here to protect, not lynch. We will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe.”
Karissa Lewis, national field director of the Movement for Black Lives, said “George Floyd should still be alive, full stop.”
“Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict doesn’t fix an irredeemable, racist system of policing rooted in white supremacy that will continue working against and harming Black people just as designed.”
Civil rights and faith leaders applauded the verdict, but some cautioned that many others have not been held accountable for killing unarmed Black men and women. And, they said, Floyd’s family still has suffered a loss.
“There is no question that today’s verdict has ushered in sighs of relief in a nation that often refuses to hold the powerful accountable,” Amber Goodwin, executive director of The Community Justice Action Fund, a gun violence prevention group, said in a statement. “And while we collectively exhale, our fight to hold cops accountable should not subside.”
Meanwhile, Patrick Yoes, the National Fraternal Order of Police President, said the trial “was fair, and due process was served.”
“Our system of justice has worked,” Yoes said, adding, “We hope and expect that all of our fellow citizens will respect the rule of law and remain peaceful tonight and in the days to come.”
Minneapolis reacts to guilty verdict: ‘The beginning of the healing work’
Silence fell across the courthouse lawn for a few moment as the verdicts were read and then the crowd erupted in cheers. “GUILTY!” they yelled. “All three!”
Horns began blaring across the city as the crowd gleefully chanted Floyd‘s name – no longer an angry cry, but one of happiness. “Say his name! GEORGE FLOYD!”
In George Floyd Square, cheers erupted. People were crying, hugging and chanting Floyd’s name. “We got what we want!” one yelled.
As people tossed handfuls of dollar bills into the air nearby, Jennifer Starr Dodd was in tears, embracing her friends. Her legs were shaking. She said the verdict gives her hope and is a signal that her life and her children’s lives matter.
“I’m in shock,” she said, minutes after the verdict was read. “We matter, you know, they see us and they see our pain. Today is the beginning of the healing work.”
The charges against Derek Chauvin, explained
Here’s a breakdown of the Minnesota criminal charges against Derek Chauvin:
Second-degree murder is causing the death of a human being, without intent to cause that death, while committing or attempting to commit another felony. In the Chauvin case, the alleged felony was third-degree assault.
Third-degree murder is unintentionally causing someone’s death by committing an act that is eminently dangerous to other persons while exhibiting a depraved mind, with reckless disregard for human life.
Second-degree manslaughter is culpable negligence where a person creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to someone else.