Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder on Tuesday in the arrest of George Floyd, a milestone in the fraught racial history of the United States and a rebuke of law enforcement’s treatment of Black Americans.
The 12-member jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty of all charges including second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter after considering three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses, including bystanders, police officials and medical experts. Deliberations began on Monday and lasted just over 10 hours.
In a confrontation captured on video, Chauvin, who is white, pushed his knee into the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, as he and three fellow officers arrested Floyd, who was accused of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a grocery store.
Chauvin, wearing a gray suit with a blue tie and white shirt as well as a light-blue pandemic-related face mask, nodded and stood quickly when the judge ruled that his bail was revoked after the verdict was read.
He was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs and placed in the custody of the Hennepin County Sheriff.
Outside the courthouse, a crowd of several hundred people erupted in cheers when the verdict was announced. Cars honked and 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 some threw dollar bills in the air in celebration. The site has since become a rallying point for racial justice protests.
Chauvin had pleaded not guilty to the charges of second-degree unintentional murder involving “intentional infliction of bodily harm,” third-degree unintentional “depraved mind” murder involving an “act eminently dangerous to others,” and second-degree manslaughter involving a death caused by “culpable negligence.”
Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, Chauvin 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.”
Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said he had spoken by phone with members of Floyd’s family.