Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd, whose death led to months of demonstrations against police brutality last summer.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was read late Tuesday afternoon in downtown Minneapolis. It took the jury less than a day to come to its decision.
The Judge asked each juror if the verdict was correct, thanked them for ‘heavy duty jury service,’ and dismissed them. He revoked bail and told Chauvin to report back in eight weeks for sentencing. Chauvin showed no emotion in the courtroom as the verdict was read. He was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately after Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read the jury’s decision.
The trial was seen as a referendum of policing and whether a conviction of a police officer for killing a Black person could be won. Prosecutors argued it was an intentional act that directly led to Floyd’s death, while the officer’s defense portrayed it as a normal form of police work.
Graphic bystander footage of the fatal arrest showed Floyd, 46, pleading with Chauvin that he couldn’t breathe as the officer pinned him to the street with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin’s knee remained on Floyd’s neck for well over nine minutes, even after Floyd became unresponsive. Floyd died a short time later at Hennepin County Medical Center.
It was known that Floyd struggled with opioid addiction and trace amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine were found during the county medical examiner’s autopsy, making an argument by Chauvin defense lawyer Eric Nelson, that Floyd died from the drugs in his system. Nelson also argued that Floyd’s slightly enlarged heart with several arteries significantly occluded, also determined in the autopsy, were also determining factors of his death, and were present at the time of his arrest.
However, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker stated in his autopsy report that Floyd’s cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest” (the stopping of both the heart and lungs) complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
Baker also described both the drugs in Floyd’s system and his heart disease as contributing factors but said that neither were direct causes of death. He also categorized Floyd’s death as a homicide, which in medical terms simply means death at the hands of someone else.
In addition to Baker, the prosecution called forth numerous other medical professionals who testified that Floyd died from low levels of oxygen, also known as asphyxia.
Also, several officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, including Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, vehemently condemning what Chauvin did, while other officers explained to the court that Chauvin’s conduct was not something trained by the force.
Minneapolis and other cities around the country have been on alert, in case of a different verdict, with fears of riots or other disturbances, which resulted in many of them mobilizing their national guard and declaring state of emergency.