The jury in the trial of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin has reached a verdict and it is GUILTY. The jury deliberated for about 10 hours, capping a trial that has become the latest bellwether on efforts to address police brutality and systemic racism in America.
On the charge of second degree murder, which carries up to 40 years in prison, the jury found Derek Chauvin Guilty. On third degree murder, which carries up to 25 years in prison, the verdict returned was Guilty. And finally on the lesser charge of second degree manslaughter, which carries up to 10 years in prison, the jury found Chauvin Guilty
Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, was charged with murdering Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, by kneeling on his neck for nine and a half minutes last May.
The Governor of Minnesota ordered 3,000 National Guards to protect the peace in the event that a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict was delivered and the almost assured resulting civil disturbances.
This verdict could change the way in which the police is held accountable for their actions when they engage members of the public..
Chauvin faced charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s killing while the man lay handcuffed and pinned to the pavement after allegedly using a counterfeit $20 to buy cigarettes at a corner store in south Minneapolis.
Jurors got the case Monday around 4 p.m. following a marathon day of closing arguments in the former Minneapolis police officer’s murder case. They deliberated for several hours Monday and resumed at 8 a.m. Tuesday, spending a total of about 10 hours deliberating.
Weeks of trial testimony have revolved around a basic question: Who or what is responsible for Floyd’s death? The defense has pointed to Floyd’s health conditions and the drugs in his system. The prosecution has put the blame on Chauvin’s actions and his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker ruled Floyd’s death a homicide last year, saying Floyd went into cardiopulmonary arrest as then-officer Chauvin kept his knee pressed on the neck of the prone, handcuffed man.
Bystander video at the scene captured Chauvin with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the man pleaded that he couldn’t breathe and as people shouted from the curb that Floyd was dying. Chauvin and three other officers were fired.
Closing arguments on Monday began with prosecutors painting the ex-officer as a cop who disregarded his training, his department’s use of force rules and Floyd’s suffering as the man lay handcuffed and pinned to the street under Chauvin’s knee.
“What the defendant did was not policing. What the defendant did was an assault,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher told jurors. “He betrayed the badge.”
Defense attorney Eric Nelson worked to sow reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds as he recounted Chauvin’s actions and Floyd’s health and the drugs in his system.