Minneapolis ex-cop found guilty in George Floyd murder

Derek Chauvin was charged with second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter

Minneapolis ex-cop found guilty in George Floyd murder

Minneapolis ex-cop Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in a verdict that US President Joe Biden said could represent “a moment of significant change.”

In a video that went viral on social media last May, Chauvin was shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd was in custody on suspected forgery. Despite Floyd saying he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin continued to hold him down with a knee for more than nine minutes until Floyd died.

As reported by CNN, a jury declared Chauvin guilty on all three charges levelled against him: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. With the conviction, the former police officer is looking at a maximum of 75 years in prison.

Sentencing would be scheduled in eight weeks, according to Judge Peter Cahill. Minnesota Department of Corrections spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald said that Chauvin had been transferred to the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights.

The jury’s verdict was reached today after a deliberation period that lasted over 10 hours across two days. In a presidential address following the announcement, Biden said the verdict sent the message that “no one should be above the law.”

The US president described Chauvin’s actions as “a murder in the full light of day” that “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see…the systemic racism…a stain on our nation's soul, the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans.” He expressed his hope that the ruling would help to ensure that “Black and Brown people…don't fear interactions with law enforcement.”

Biden called for an acknowledgment and head-on confrontation of the systemic racism and racial inequality that were observable in the US’ criminal justice system and in law enforcement.

“In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen or occur again,” he said.

Biden’s speech also cited a conversation the president had with Floyd’s daughter Gianna in which Biden said that Floyd “did change the world” and that he left a legacy of “peace, not violence.” The president issued a warning against “agitators and extremists” who would seek to capitalise on the “raw emotions” following the verdict as cause for violence.

Floyd’s death, which followed the killings of fellow African Americans Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor last year, sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. which saw many groups take to the streets in protest across the US last year and extend even beyond the country’s borders. Floyd’s plea of “I can’t breathe” became the movement’s rallying cry.

“You think about all of the movements that had to be built in order for this moment to happen, all the activists in the street,” said Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way and former leader at civil rights organisation NAACP, in a statement to CNN. “We have to see this as a beginning not an end until George Floyd's daughter can, with confidence, know that she will be safe throughout her life in a way that her father was not able to be. It's so important that we stay in the streets, that we keep organising and that we make sure that we actually don't just try what we've tried before and that has failed, but actually have the courage to try new things.”

American Bar Association president Patricia Lee Refo reiterated that “a single verdict is neither an indictment of all law enforcement nor a solution to the systemic inequities in our justice system.”

“Our society relies on the rule of law and the principle that laws must be applied and enforced fairly and without bias. A verdict may bring some justice, but it does not return George Floyd to his family,” Refo said in a statement. “While we have made great progress, the nation still must address the injustices, violence and racism that exist in our legal system that disproportionately and negatively affect people of colour.”

The ABA president said that reforms were needed for public trust in the system to be restored.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the jury had fulfilled its civic duty by convicting Chauvin. In a statement published by CNN, Garland confirmed that the Justice Department was in the process of conducting a federal civil rights investigation into Floyd’s death.

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