Chauvin Found Guilty of Murdering George Floyd - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Chauvin Found Guilty of Murdering George Floyd


The Daily Crucible

Jury has found Mr Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing sparked nationwide protests  against racial injustice.
Chauvin, 45, murdered Floyd on May 25, 2020 and on April 20, 2021, 11 months after, he was convicted, having being 
 found guilty on all three charges — second-degree and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The second-degree murder count, the most serious of the three, carries a prison sentence of up to 40 years.

Wearing a grey suit, a blue tie and a mask, Chauvin furrowed his brow only slightly when the verdict was read. He was led away in handcuffs and will be sentenced in eight weeks.

Speaking after the verdict, Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney-general who led the prosecution, said: “I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice.”

The trial in Minneapolis has been one of the most closely watched US court cases in years, and comes at a time of calls for greater accountability when police kill people of colour while performing their duties. Jury selection began on March 9, and opening statements began on March 29. Jurors deliberated roughly 10 hours before announcing they had reached a verdict.

In May last year, Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.

A crowd of people gathered to hear the verdict outside the Minneapolis courthouse where the case was tried © Reuters
“What is important to think about for justice, is what justice looks like for George Floyd’s family,” said Ashley Howard, a University of Iowa professor who studies the history of African Americans in the Midwest. “Any conviction will never bring back their father, their partner, their friend. But if a conviction brings some closure for the family, then they can call that justice.”

Floyd’s family responded to the conviction at a press conference shortly after the verdict was handed down, where they were joined by Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, and their attorney Benjamin Crump.

“I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity to hopefully get some sleep,” said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother. “A lot of days that I prayed, and I hoped and I was speaking everything into existence. I said, ‘I have faith that he will be convicted.’”

A crowd grew outside the Hennepin county government centre in downtown Minneapolis ahead of the verdict. One person led a familiar chat, shouting “Say his name”, to which the crowd responded “George Floyd”.

The charges against Derek Chauvin
Second-degree unintentional murder requires that prosecutors prove the defendant committed the murder while committing a felony — in Chauvin’s case, the alleged felony was assault. They did not need to prove an intent to kill, only an intent to commit the assault. The maximum penalty is 40 years in prison.

Third-degree murder, which carries a 25-year maximum sentence, applies to a defendant who kills someone while committing an “eminently dangerous” act “and evincing a depraved mind”.

Second-degree manslaughter requires proving that a defendant acted with “culpable negligence” by creating “an unreasonable risk” of killing someone. Defendants face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The city has expected protests after the verdict, regardless of the jury’s decision. The government centre has been barricaded with a fence topped with concertina wire since March. The National Guard increased troops in the metro area last week following civil unrest in a northern suburb after police shot a 20-year-old black man during a traffic stop.

Six of the 12 jurors were white, four were black and two were multiracial, according to the Minnesota newspaper the Star Tribune.

The trial revolved around two issues: whether Chauvin’s use of force was justified and the precise cause of Floyd’s death.

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand to condemn Chauvin’s actions, while defence attorney Eric Nelson said force can be “awful but lawful” and that Chauvin should be judged on what any reasonable officer would have done in similar circumstances.

Chauvin guilty verdict is rare instance of police murder conviction
Prosecution witnesses primarily cited asphyxia as Floyd’s cause of death, and medical examiner Andrew Baker said he died from cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement. A lawyer for Chauvin said Floyd died of cardiac arrhythmia, pointing to prior health problems and drug use.

Race has been a central element of the trial and the attention around it, although both prosecutors and defence have tried to separate the court case from its social context. Police are rarely charged when they kill someone in the line of duty, let alone convicted.

For Jada Brown, a Minneapolis protester who supports redirecting police department funding to social services, Chauvin’s conviction is “a first step. I don’t think it’s a victory.”

Source:Financial Times

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