Police officer Derek Chauvin found guilty of George Floyd's murder

Jennifer Savin
·2-min read
Photo credit: Stephanie Keith - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stephanie Keith - Getty Images

Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, who stood accused of murdering an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, has been found guilty of second and third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter. He will remain in jail until his sentencing in eight weeks time (second-degree murder careers a maximum incarceration time of up to 40 years).

Floyd's tragic death was captured on camera last May and footage was subsequently shared around the world via social media, sparking a wave of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and global protests against racial injustice. The verdict is a landmark result for the many millions who have been calling for an end to police brutality.

Floyd was initially arrested after a shop assistant called the police on suspicion that a bank note the father-of-five had used to buy cigarettes was counterfeit. The incident escalated to Chauvin, a white officer, handcuffing Floyd and kneeling on his neck for almost ten minutes. During this time, Floyd repeatedly said "I can't breathe" and asked for Chauvin to stop.

The defence team, lead by Eric Nelson, argued that Chauvin followed correct procedures throughout the course of the arrest and that Floyd had died in part due to his "significant" drug use and a recent diagnosis of high blood pressure and hypertension.

Nelson added that no unnecessary force was used and that Chauvin was aware that his actions were being recorded: "Officers know that they are being videotaped."

Throughout the trial, the BBC reports that the jury (comprised of seven women and five men) also heard that - contrary to claims from the defence - Floyd had died because of Chauvin's actions and not because Floyd suffered from a heart attack shortly after the arrest, as the defence team put forward.

Photo credit: Jason Armond - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jason Armond - Getty Images

"You were told, for example, that Mr Floyd died because his heart was too big, you heard that testimony," said prosecutor Jerry Blackwell on Monday afternoon. "The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr Chauvin’s heart was too small."

He added that the case was so clear-cut, even a child could understand that Chauvin was in the wrong. "In fact, a child did understand it, when the nine-year-old girl [in the video] said, 'Get off of him'. That's how simple it was," Blackwell told the court. "Get off of him... common sense."

Fellow prosecutor Steve Schleicher also encouraged jurors, six of whom are white, four of whom are black and two of whom are multiracial, to use their "common sense, believe your eyes [and] what you saw, you saw", in reference to the distressing footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck. He added, "This wasn't policing; this was murder."

Floyd left behind five children, one whom, Gianna, was just six-years-old at the time of his death.

Our thoughts are with George Floyd's loved ones.

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