Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
He faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to a decade for second-degree manslaughter – up to 75 years in all.
Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks, and his bail has been revoked. The ex-cop was led away from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Floyd, 46, died in May 2020 when police tried to arrest him on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store. Floyd died as Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the Black man was pinned to the pavement and handcuffed after struggling with officers in the back seat of a squad car.
Floyd repeatedly cried that he couldn’t breathe as concerned onlookers shouted for Chauvin to stop and took cellphone video that would help spark a wave of widespread protests and unrest last summer.
Prosecutors argued that Floyd was not a threat to anyone and that Chauvin did not follow his training by using such force on Floyd. The officer “had to know” that kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds would kill him, prosecutor Steve Schleicher said during closing arguments Monday.
“He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. He wasn’t trying to do anything to anyone,” Schleicher said of Floyd. “Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage. And none was shown on that day. No courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”
The prosecution’s parade of witnesses included eyewitnesses as well as current and former police officers. Minneapolis’ police chief and a former supervisory sergeant both testified the Chauvin could have ended his restraint of his Floyd after the suspect stopped resisting.
The defense tried to convince jurors that Floyd’s illicit drug use and existing heart disease were the causes of his death, not Chauvin’s knee upon his neck. Chauvin’s lawyer attorney Eric Nelson also argued that his client used a reasonable amount of force to restrain Floyd.
“The futility of their efforts became apparent — they weren’t able to get him into the car,” Nelson said during his closing arguments. “Three Minneapolis police officers were unable to get Mr. Floyd into the car.”
In a statement, Floyd’s legal team, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his co-council, called the verdict “painfully earned justice for the Floyd family and community.”
Lawmakers also offered their reactions following the guilty verdict.
“This guilty verdict serves as an official proclamation of what so many of us have known for nearly a year: George Floyd was murdered by an officer who was sworn to protect and serve,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement. “However, we should not mistake a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved or that the divide between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged.”
“We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring meaningful change to police departments across the country,” he added. “The Senate will continue that work as we strive to ensure George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the verdict “a step in the right direction for justice” at a press conference with members of Democratic House leadership and the Congressional Black Caucus.
“This is just the first step,” CBC chair Joyce Beatty (D-OH) said. “We know that there are still the mothers, the families, the children who are shedding tears today because a verdict will not bring back their family members.”
“We are hopeful today will be the catalyst to turn the pain, agony, the justice delayed into action,” Beatty added.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate, said in a statement that “there is no question in my mind that the jury reached the right verdict.”
“The jury’s verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd,” progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in a statement. “Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person.”
“The trauma and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder must never leave us,” Sanders added. “It was a manifestation of a system that callously devalues the lives of Black people. Our struggle now is about justice — not justice on paper, but real justice in which all Americans live their lives free of oppression. We must boldly root out the cancer of systemic racism and police violence against people of color.”
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will address the nation later Tuesday evening, according to the White House.
“The President and the Vice President watched the verdict with staff in the Private Dining Room,” according to the pool. “Following the announcement of the verdict, the President spoke with Governor Tim Walz. The President, the Vice President, & the First Lady spoke with Philonise Floyd”
“True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again,” he added.
Dozens of people gathered outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis to hear the verdict. When it was read, the crowd erupted in a mix of cheers and tears.
Outside of the Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered last year, bystanders began throwing dollar bills in celebration. Some people brought flowers, laying them on the ground where Floyd took his final breaths. Others prayed next to paintings and images of Floyd, honoring a life cut short.
Many seemed to be in a state of shock, saying they couldn’t believe a police officer was convicted for murdering a Black person.
But the overwhelming feeling across the city was one of joy. Chants of “Justice!” and “Black lives matter” rang out across Minneapolis, from George Floyd Square to the steps of the Hennepin county courthouse.