A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Floyd’s death sparked widespread outrage and protests when a video was shared online showing Chauvin kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes.
Chauvin was charged in the Hennepin County District Court with counts of second and third-degree murder, along with second-degree manslaughter. He was found guilty on all three charges. Minnesota sentencing guidelines indicate that Chauvin will be sentenced for the second-degree murder charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Sentencing will occur at a later date.
The verdict represents a significant victory for the Black Lives Matter movement and represents a judicial validation of the systemic injustice faced by Black men, especially in police confrontations.
The case is likely to be appealed. Due to the massive political and media coverage of Floyd’s killing, Chauvin’s lawyer has stated that they will appeal the judgment based on the notion that jurors were swayed by external forces. California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters suggested that protesters should become more confrontational if the jury passed a “not guilty” verdict.
Following Waters’ comments, the judge in this case, Peter Cahill, said to Chauvin’s defense attorney: “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
The other police officers involved in George Floyd’s death, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Kiernan Lane, and Tou Thao, have also been criminally charged, with trials expected to begin in August.
The verdict comes in the wake of recent deadly police confrontations, including the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man also killed in Minnesota. Anticipating potential unrest, the National Guard mobilized over 3,000 soldiers in Minneapolis before the verdict was released. The official verdict, when published, will be available here.