Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer who was responsible for the death of George Floyd, has been found guilty of murder.
The former Minneapolis police officer was filmed kneeling—for more than nine minutes—on Floyd's neck while he repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe", as passersbys begged Chauvin to stop.
His guilty verdict was handed down mere hours ago on April 21, and could see him spending more than 40 years in prison, which is a punishment that is rarely seen in police brutality cases.
Chauvin was charged with three counts—second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. And after deliberating for less than 24 hours, the jurors found him guilty of all three counts. Chauvin has since pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On May 25, 2020, the tragic and unwarranted death of George Floyd, at the hands of Chauvin was one of many Black deaths by police in the United States—amongst the likes of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery and most recently Daunte Wright—that has since reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.
As per Sydney Morning Herald, members of the jury consisted of seven women and five men, six of whom were white, while four were Black and two were multiracial.
Since the verdict, the Floyd's family attorney, Ben Crump has since released the following statement:
"Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America."
"This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state.”
Prior to the verdict, U.S. President Joe Biden revealed that he has been in touch with the Floyd family, saying that he has been “praying the verdict is the right verdict,” adding, “I think it is overwhelming in my view.”
Closer to the family, Floyd's brother Rodney has also spoken out about the guilty verdict, telling MSNBC, “I’m feeling tears of joy, so emotional.”
Alongside Rodney, George Floyd's girlfriend, Courtney Ross, was waiting outside the courtroom to hear the results of the verdict.
“He was funny and silly and prayerful and a man of God," she said. “He was out of this world.”
According to The New York Times, in the rare instances when police officers involved in deaths in custody have been charged with murder or manslaughter, it has only happened 121 times since 2005—which is fewer than half were actually convicted.
Chauvin's trial dove into two main questions: What caused Floyd’s death? And did Chauvin use excessive force? One of the most damning responses came from Chauvin's former boss, the Minneapolis Police Department chief, who testified that Chauvin's level of force on Floyd was "excessive" and "violated police training".
Additionally, medical experts also offered condemning testimonies, explaining that Floyd did in fact die from a lack of oxygen. While Chauvin himself declined to testify, his defence lawyers attempted—and clearly failed to—argue that Floyd died from a heart condition and traces of drugs in his system.
George Floyd also left behind a 7-year-old daughter, Gianna Floyd.