Anthony Gockowski | Rose Williams
A jury has found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict shortly after 4 p.m., announcing that the jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Judge Cahill reads the verdict: Chauvin is found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. pic.twitter.com/cY1tfXS7Iv
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) April 20, 2021
Chauvin was at the center of a May 25, 2020 incident in which he was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. The incident set off days of deadly riots across the Twin Cities that caused an estimated $500 million in damage.
The jury began deliberations Monday night after hearing over six hours of closing arguments from the defense and prosecution. It came back with a verdict under 24 hours later, requiring unanimous consent from all 12 jurors.
The jury heard from 45 witnesses across three weeks of testimony.
The verdict brings to an end one of the most high-profile and visible trials in American history. In a rare move, Cahill authorized cameras in the courtroom, allowing the nation and the world to watch live as the trial unfolded.
A massive crowd gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center Tuesday afternoon awaiting the verdict, cheering when it was announced.
A crowd outside the Hennepin County courthouse cheers as the judge reads Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict. pic.twitter.com/GWyiONjZgG
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) April 20, 2021
“Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America,” said attorney Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney.
Crump helped Floyd’s relatives secure a historic $27 million civil settlement with the city of Minneapolis, which was announced during jury selection.
“This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state,” Crump added.
Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team of prosecutors addressed the media shortly after the verdict was read.
“That long, hard, painstaking work has culminated today. I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice and now the cause of justice is in your hands,” said Ellison.
The prosecution team, which was led by Ellison’s office with the help of several outside lawyers working pro bono, argued that Floyd’s death was caused by asphyxiation as a result of Chauvin’s actions.
Gov. Tim Walz applauded the verdict as “an important step forward for justice in Minnesota.”
“True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again. And the tragic death of Daunte Wright this week serves as a heartbreaking reminder that we still have so much more work to do to get there,” he said.
Prosecutors brought in witnesses from the scene, including a handful of teenagers and one nine-year-old. They also brought in several Minneapolis police officers to testify against Chauvin, an unprecedented development in law enforcement trials.
The defense team argued throughout the trial that too many factors contributed to Floyd’s death, making it impossible to know exactly what killed him.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson, who was the sole attorney to appear in court on behalf of Chauvin, brought attention to Floyd’s heart disease, recent fentanyl and methamphetamine intake, possible exposure to carbon monoxide, and a paraganglioma tumor discovered by the medical examiner.
Chauvin invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, choosing not to testify in his own defense.
The only other police officer to be convicted in a use of force incident in Minnesota is Mohamed Noor, who was found guilty in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, but was acquitted of second-degree murder.