Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Nearly a year after the killing of George Floyd enraged the nation, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges.
By Gabriel Arizon, Marcos Franco and Savannah Simmons, Staff Writers
A jury found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd Tuesday, nearly a year after the killing sparked mass outrage and protest nationwide.
On April 20, a jury returned a verdict finding 45-year-old Chauvin guilty for the murder of Floyd in the second and third degree, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The decision was deliberated amongst jurors, a process taking a little more than 10 hours. Judge Peter Cahill charged the former officer, who remained emotionless during the verdict. Chauvin’s sentencing is expected to take place in eight weeks, although Cahill did not provide an exact date. Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison.
“Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. “The trial is over, but our work has only begun. … True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again.”
The 46-year-old Floyd died in police custody on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin pinned him to the ground, pushing his knee onto his neck. Chauvin stayed in place for over nine minutes, during which Floyd repeatedly stated that he could not breathe.
Protesters who gathered outside the Minneapolis courthouse cheered after the verdict was announced. Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, expressed his relief and faith that the jury would return a guilty verdict. However, he also noted this was not the end, citing the death of Daunte Wright — who was killed by an officer 11 miles away from the place George died according to Newsweek — as part of a never-ending cycle and a reason to keep protesting.
“I’m going to put up a fight every day,” Philonise said in a news conference, “because I’m not just fighting for George anymore. I’m fighting for everyone around this world.”
The Floyd family was contacted by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who gave them their support and a promise to sign to George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“We’re going to get a lot more done, we’re going to do a lot,” Biden said. “We’re going to stay at it till we get it done.”
LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez released a statement on the verdict, writing it was a signal of justice for those awaiting the result.
“While the road to real criminal justice reform remains long, important steps forward were taken for substantive and sustainable change,” Francisco wrote. “Our nation’s work has only just begun.”
According to research by criminal justice Professor Philip Stinson, of the 110 U.S. police officers charged with murder or manslaughter in an on-duty shooting between 2005 and 2020, 42 were convicted — only five of those were for murder. A database maintained by the Washington Post since 2015 that records every fatal shooting in the U.S. by an on-duty officer found that there are approximately 1,000 every year.
Floyd’s death stirred up protests and unrest across the country, including Los Angeles where a curfew remained in place for six days in order to stave off looting. On May 31, National Guard troops were dispatched to defend businesses in Santa Monica and Long Beach that were targeted by looters. Caltrans also closed the westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway to prevent traffic into Santa Monica. Despite the hysteria in these areas, protests across Southern California remained mostly peaceful.
The three other officers implicated in Floyd’s death — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — each face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Their trial date is Aug. 23.
Eighteen-year-old Darnella Frazier, who recorded the video of George’s death, made a post on Facebook expressing her feelings after the verdict was read.
“I just cried so hard. This last hour my heart was beating so fast, I was so anxious, anxiety bussing through the roof. But to know GUILTY ON ALL 3 CHARGES !!! THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU,” Frazier wrote in all caps. “George Floyd we did it!!!”
Correction: The article incorrectly misspelled Darnella Frazier's name as Daniella Frazier. The article is now updated.