A popular Tuesday jury found ex-police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of African-American George Floyd’s murder.
The former Minneapolis police officer was charged with second-degree murder, punishable by up to 40 years in prison; third-degree murder, with a maximum sentence of 25 years, and second-degree murder, with up to 10 years deprivation of liberty.
The jury found him guilty of all three charges, and now the judge has eight weeks to determine the sentence.
Without prior penalties, the sentence may not be more than 12 years in prison.
The former agent pleaded not guilty to all charges and received the verdict with the same inscrutable expression he maintained throughout the trial.
American media reports Chauvin is expected to appeal the verdict.
The other three officers in Floyd’s arrest will be tried later.
“Justice was done”
The verdict was known after a day’s deliberation.
In Minneapolis City, where Floyd died in May 2020, they feared a wave of protests should the ex-police officer be acquitted.
“It’s so justice,” one of those gathered at the court gates on Tuesday told the BBC, amid cheers and applause.
“The verdict goes beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world,” said lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the family of George Floyd.
Philonise Floyd, one of Geroge’s brothers, said in an emotional media appearance that she could finally breathe, alluding to the plea “I can’t breathe” that her brother repeated before his death.
This month, the trial was followed with tremendous attention inside and outside the country, returning to focus on the U.S. police system and racial inequality.
Chauvin’s pictures, 45, pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck, his face on the asphalt and for more than 9 minutes, went around the world last year and unleashed a wave of protests inside and outside the US. The. UU.
“None above the law”
Personally, US President Joe Biden called Floyd’s family shortly after the verdict came out.
“There’s some justice at least now,” said Biden.
“We followed this every second. We’re all very relieved. We’re going to get more done. This will be the first step in dealing with systemic racism. “
Then, during the same call, Vice President Kamala Harris expressed appreciation to the whole family.
“You were the moment’s true leaders. We’re going to make sure George’s legacy remains intact, this moment goes down in history, “he said.
“From this tragedy, we’ll make something good.”
Later, Biden and Harris appeared at the White House to reiterate their satisfaction with the verdict and stress the need to promote changes in the police and judiciary.
“Nobody’s above the law,” Biden stressed.
“Today’s verdict sends out a message, but not enough.”
“State and local security forces need to redouble their efforts, as does the federal government,” the president added, citing George Floyd’s police reform law.
Different political and civil activism reactions began to fill social networks immediately.
Darnella, the young woman who recorded and shared Chauvin’s video with Floyd, reacted with emotion and appreciation.
“This last hour, my heart was racing and I was very anxious,” she wrote on Facebook.
“But knowing he’s GUILTY OF ALL 3 CHARGES… THANK YOU, GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU. George Floyd, we did. Justice was served. “
Former President Barack Obama considered that “although the verdict is a necessary step towards progress, it is far from sufficient.”
“We need to move forward with concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial prejudice in our criminal justice system,” he added in a statement signed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of the first news-reacting world leaders.
Johnson wrote in a tweet that after the shock as Floyd died, he welcomed the verdict.
“Tonight, my thoughts are with George Floyd’s family and friends,” he wrote.
Three weeks’ trial
The verdict was made public after a three-week trial and increased racial tensions over the recent death of another young African-American by a police officer in the same area of the country.
This is the first time that the American Civil Liberties Union found a white agent legally responsible for the death of a black man in custody in Minnesota’s history.
During the trial against Agent Chauvin, 45 witnesses appeared, including doctors, force-use experts, police officers, people witnessing what happened, and others near Floyd.
They highlighted the harsh testimonies of the youth who witnessed Floyd’s death, as well as Chauvin’s superiors and police colleagues who condemned his actions, breaking ranks.
Prosecutor’s Arguments and the Defense
On Monday, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments to start deliberating on the 12 jurors—six white, four African-American, and two “multiracial.”
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued his client did “what any reasonable police officer” would have done after finding himself in this “dynamic” and “unstable” situation, with a big man fighting three agents-referring to Floyd.
The defense tried to show that drugs could have caused Floyd’s death.
Nelson argued that Floyd’s drug use was “significant,” adding that his client was unlikely to intentionally violate the use of force regulations as he knew he was being recorded.
For its part, the prosecution tried to prove the actions of agent Chauvin led to Floyd’s death.
Prosecutor Steve Schleider urged the jury to “use reason.”
“Believe in what you see. What you saw is what you saw, “he said, referring to Chauvin’s video of Floyd’s knee.
“This isn’t law enforcement: murder.”
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell had the last word before the jury and considered the matter “so simple that a child could understand it.”
“A boy actually got it when a 9-year-old girl said, ‘Get away from him,'” said Blackwell, referring to a young witness.
“It was easy. ‘Get away. ‘Common sense. “
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