A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all three cases related to the murder of the unarmed black George Floyd last year.
Chauvin was not expressive when Judge Peter Cahill announced his convictions of second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. The verdicts were read by the jury the day after the deliberations began.
Second degree murder is sentenced to a maximum of 40 years in prison. Third degree murder has a maximum sentence of 25 years. Second degree manslaughter has a maximum of 10 years. Sentencing guidelines call for rates below the maximum.
Cahill said the sentencing would take place in eight weeks. After the verdicts were read, Chauvin was handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom.
“This case marks a turning point in American history for law enforcement accountability and sends a clear message that we hope will be heard clearly in every city and state,” said Ben Crump, attorney for Floyd’s family. in a statement.
Chauvin’s high profile trial began in March and ended Monday in a barbed wire-fortified courthouse in Minneapolis.
The case spearheaded the anti-racist movement that gained momentum during former President Donald Trump’s tenure and caught fire across the country in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Video of Chauvin holding his knee on or near Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last May while Floyd was prone and handcuffed, sparking months of protests and reviving the movement against police brutality against black men .
The video became a vivid example of the way black men are often treated by law enforcement agencies. Whether chauvin was found guilty or acquitted was widely viewed as a test of the American judicial system.
After it became known that the jury would deliver its verdict on Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden canceled planned remarks on an infrastructure proposal that he wants to pass in Congress. He was due to address the verdict later on Tuesday.
People close to Floyd were preparing for possible outcomes.
“I think it will mean change; it will mean change. It is a first step on the long road to recovery,” said Floyd’s friend Courteney Batya Ross in an interview on CNN on Tuesday, addressing a possible guilty verdict. “I think Floyd came here for a reason,” she said.
Trials of three of the other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, are due to begin in August.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, previously stated that his client would appeal a guilty verdict because the jury may have been improperly influenced by outside forces. Nelson cited comments from Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Urging protesters to become confrontational if the jury acquitted Chauvin.
Biden, who pledged to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system, failed to express his views on the case while it was ongoing. On Tuesday, when the jury was seized, he said he was praying that the jury would come to the “right verdict”.
The tense atmosphere surrounding the trial has been heightened in recent weeks by a spate of police killings that have sparked protests.
On April 11, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was killed by a police officer in nearby Brooklen Center, Minnesota. Police officer Kimberly Potter later claimed she used a taser. Potter has resigned and has been charged with second degree manslaughter.
Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Latino, was shot dead by a Chicago police officer on March 29. Footage of the seventh grade murder, which caused fear in Chicago and across the country, was released during the Chauvin trial.
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