Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was charged with causing the death of George Floyd, was found guilty on April 20, 2021.
After ten hours of deliberations, the 12 member jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years and/or a fine of $20,000 for second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin’s bail was revoked and he was taken to prison to await his sentencing.
Sentencing will take place in approximately eight weeks, about the middle of June.
Floyd died at 9:25 p.m. on May 25, 2020 after he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes.
During three weeks of court proceedings, the jury heard testimony from 38 witnesses for the prosecution and only seven for the defense.
Throughout the trial, State of Minnesota vs. Derek Michael Chauvin, the prosecution argued that Chauvin used excessive and unreasonable force when he kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back on May 25, 2020.
The prosecution relied heavily on multiple videos of Chauvin’s actions, analysis by policing experts, and medical testimony determining Floyd died due to the restraint.
They called Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who testified that Chauvin’s actions were, “in no way, shape or form,” within department policy, training, ethics or values.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher presented the state’s closing argument on Monday, April 19, 2021.
He reminded the jury that Chauvin was on trial not because he was a police officer, but because he assaulted Floyd and caused his death. The prosecutors also referred to Chauvin’s pride, his ego, and how he was not fazed by the bystanders pleading with him to stop.
Prosecution also said that Floyd is not on trial here. There was never any evidence introduced that he passed a counterfeit bill. Defence claims that he was not compliant.
The defence presented seven witnesses to bolster its three reasons for finding Chauvin not guilty: Floyd died from drug and health problems, Chauvin’s use of force was ugly but appropriate, and the hostile crowd of bystanders distracted the former officer.
Defence attorney Eric Nelson argued that medical reasons, not Chauvin’s actions, caused Floyd’s death. It was Floyd’s use of methamphetamine and fentanyl, his initial resistance to officers and his pre-existing heart problems that killed him.
In his closing statements, on April 21, 2021, Nelson focused his closing remarks on two concepts: authorized use of force and the cause of death. He commented on the testimony of Dr. Fowler, who said that carbon monoxide could possibly have caused his death.
Nelson instructed the jury to start with a presumption of innocence and to consider all of the evidence presented. He submitted that the state failed to meet its burden of proof of reasonable doubt.
Chauvin himself never testified. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right on April 15, 2021. If he had testified, prosecutors could cross-examine him.
The 12-person jury included three Black men, one Black woman, and two women who identified as multiracial. There were also two white men and four white women. They ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s and were from both urban and rural backgrounds. The two alternates were white women.
SOURCES: CNN.COM, C-SPAN 2, MNCOURTS.GOV, NYTIMES.COM