Former cop Derek Chauvin convicted of murder and manslaughter over George Floyd’s death
President Joe Biden said the conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd “can be a giant step forward” for the nation in the fight against systemic racism.
Biden spoke from the White House hours after the verdict alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, with the pair calling for Congress to act swiftly to address policing reform.
“It’s not enough,” Biden said of the verdict. “We can’t stop here.”
Harris said, “A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice.”
Biden spoke after telephoning Floyd’s family, telling them, “We’re all so relieved.”
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter after kneeling on the neck of a dying George Floyd during an arrest last May.
The verdict was read in court on Tuesday morning, with Chauvin found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree “depraved mind” murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The 12 sequestered jurors considered three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses including bystanders, police officials and medical experts along with hours of video evidence in the most high-profile US case involving accusations of police misconduct in decades.
They reached a unanimous verdict on each charge to convict or acquit. A single hold-out would have resulted in a mistrial.
Chauvin, wearing a grey suit as well as a light-blue pandemic-related face mask, nodded and stood quickly when the judge ruled his bail was revoked and he was taken into custody.
He faces 12-1/2 years in prison for his murder conviction as a first-time criminal offender. Prosecutors could, however, seek a longer sentence up to the maximum of 40 years if Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, determines that there were “aggravating factors”.
The jury included four white women, two white men, three black men, one black woman and two multiracial women, according to court records.
Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks.
Outside the courthouse on Tuesday afternoon, a crowd of several hundred people erupted in cheers when the verdict was announced.
Chants of “George Floyd” and “All three counts” broke out. At George Floyd square in Minneapolis, the intersection where Floyd was killed and is now named after him, people screamed, applauded and wept. The site has since become a rallying point for racial justice protests.
At a joyous family news conference, Floyd’s brother Philonise said he’s been getting messages from around the world. He told reporters that “they’re all saying the same thing: ‘We won’t be able to breathe until you’re able to breathe.’ Today, we are able to breathe again.”
Floyd family attorney Ben Crump says: “This is a victory for those who champion humanity over inhumanity. Those who champion justice over injustice.”
Floyd’s brother Terrence said: “History is here. This is monumental.” He added, “What a day to be a Floyd, man.”
In an arrest captured on video, Chauvin pushed his knee into the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed black man, for more than nine minutes outside the grocery store where Floyd had been accused of buying cigarettes with a fake $US20 banknote.
President Joe Biden says George Floyd’s death was “a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off” for all the world to see the problems with race and policing in the U.S.
Biden is lauding the officers who testified in the trial instead of closing ranks and keeping quiet. He says the verdict sends a strong message, but reform can’t stop with just the verdict.
The intersection of race and law enforcement has long been contentious in the United States, underscored by a series of deadly incidents involving white police officers and black people in recent years.
The Minneapolis Police Department fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd’s arrest. The three others are due to face trial later this year on aiding-and-abetting charges in Floyd’s death.
A cardiologist, a pulmonologist, a toxicologist and a forensic pathologist were called by prosecutors to testify that videos and autopsy results confirmed that Chauvin killed Floyd by compressing his body into the street in a way that starved him of oxygen.
The defence argued Chauvin behaved as any “reasonable police officer” would have under these circumstances, and claimed heart disease or even the exhaust fumes from the nearby police car may have been factors in Floyd’s death.
Darnella Frazier, a teenager who told the jury she was taking her nine-year-old cousin to the Cup Foods grocery store that evening to get snacks, was among the witnesses called by prosecutors.
Frazier had used her mobile phone to make a video depicting Floyd’s ordeal, images that catalysed the subsequent protests. Floyd can be heard on the video crying out for his mother and telling officers he cannot breathe. Eventually Chauvin lifts his knee to allow paramedics to place Floyd’s limp body onto a stretcher.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo appeared as a prosecution witness to testify that Chauvin’s actions during the arrest represented an egregious breach of his training.
The judge ordered the jurors to be sequestered after they began deliberations.
US networks’ live coverage of the trial was sometimes interrupted by new episodes of police violence caught on camera.
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