Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last year.
Cheers erupted outside the courthouse as the judge announced that jurors had found Chauvin, 45, guilty on all three charges — second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter — on their second day of deliberations. He faces up to 40 years behind bars on the top charge.
Chauvin — wearing a light gray suit, white shirt, and blue tie — showed little emotion as the verdict was read, nor as he was lead out of the courtroom in cuffs after Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill swiftly revoked his bail.
Floyd’s brother, Philonise, who was in the courtroom, began shaking before the verdict was read — and then wept when it was.
“I was just praying they would find him guilty,” he told reporters as he left the courtroom. “As an African-American man, we usually never get justice.”
No date has been set for sentencing, but Cahill said it would be in about eight weeks following a pre-sentencing investigation.
“We put everything we had into this prosecution,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said at a press conference outside the courthouse after the verdict. “I’m proud of every hour, every minute, and every ounce of effort we put into this case.”
Jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days before reaching a verdict in the closely watched case stemming from Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death — which kicked off worldwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
The 12-member jury consisted of three black men, one black woman, two white men, four white women, and two women who identify as interracial.
The Minnesota city and the entire country was on edge in anticipation of the verdict, with heightened security in place preparing for a renewal of the violent protests that marred the city after the video of Floyd’s death became public.
Hundreds gathered outside the fortified Minneapolis courthouse on Tuesday prior to the announcement of the verdict, calling for justice.
Forty-five witnesses were called to the stand over nearly three weeks of testimony in Hennepin County District Court — 38 of them brought to the stand by state prosecutors.
The four-member prosecution team, led by Assistant State Attorney General Matthew Frank, focused repeatedly on viral video footage of Floyd’s death, which included Chauvin pressing his knee on the man’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Prosecutors contend that Floyd died of asphyxiation as a result of the restraint, with Chauvin seen keeping his knee on his neck even after paramedics arrived at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue and found Floyd had no pulse.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said during closing arguments on Monday that Chauvin “betrayed his badge.”
Schleicher said, “That day, his badge wasn’t in the right place. He knew better. He just didn’t do better. This was not an accident.”
But Chauvin lawyer Eric Nelson hinged his case on three assertions: that Floyd died due to drug use and a heart ailment; that an unruly crowd of bystanders posed a threat and distracted the cop; and that Chauvin followed his training in using the restraint.
He said in his closings that viral video of Floyd’s death, which shows his client with his knee on Floyd’s neck, doesn’t tell the entire story.
“Throughout the course of this trial, the state has focused your attention on 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” Nelson told the jury. “The proper analysis is to take those 9 minutes and 29 seconds and put it into the context of the totality of the circumstances that a reasonable police officer would know.”