Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three counts of murder on Tuesday in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin was filmed holding his knee to George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in May of last year, which set off the largest protest movement against the police abuse of Black people in over a decade.
The jury deliberated for about 10 hours over the course of two days following an emotional trial that lasted three weeks. Ultimately, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter for killing Floyd. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in the next eight weeks, but according to experts, he is likely to receive far less time. The presumptive sentence for second-degree murder is 12.5 years, according to Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, although the state and the circumstances call for a higher sentence.
The highly-watched trial spanned more than two weeks, with closing arguments tying the bow on the case on April 19. During a moment from the prosecution’s rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell urged jurors to realize they already knew “the truth” about what happened last May.
“For example, you were told that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big,” Blackwell said Monday. “You heard that testimony and now—having seen all of the evidence, having heard all of the evidence—you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
The prosecution attempted to get the case thrown out in a mistrial, citing recent comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters. Judge Peter Cahill told defense Eric Nelson on Monday that her comments could be grounds for appealing a verdict in the trial. “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
As the verdict watch continues, there are currently 3,000 National Guard troops who have been deployed in Minneapolis and St. Paul, often known collectively as the Twin Cities, and people are on an extreme edge awaiting Judge Cahill’s announcement. Civil unrest is of particular note, as this ruling serves as a commentary on not only Black lives in America, but on the ongoing plight involving the continued deaths of Black people by police. Just nine days ago, police in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center shot dead 20-year-old Daunte Wright after a traffic stop.
With those factors still at play, Judge Cahill has reprimanded Chauvin to the hands of the state and he will be heading straight to jail. The takeaway from this matter is that now, fellow ex-officer Kim Potter, who is charged with second-degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright’s case, will have her day in court soon.
President Joe Biden, who was previously confirmed to have spoken on the phone with Floyd’s family, said ahead of the announcement of the jury’s decision that he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict.” Biden is also expected to make a formal statement shortly after the ruling is announced.
“I think it’s overwhelming, in my view,” Biden said the day after closing arguments were delivered, per the Associated Press. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
Sentencing for Derek Chauvin is expected in the next eight to nine weeks.