Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in last summer's murder of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in last summer's murder of George Floyd

BCN Staff – April 20, 2021 — A Minnesota jury on Tuesday found former Twin Cities police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts he faced in the killing last summer of George Floyd that has set off a chain reaction of social unrest that remains today.

In the case before Judge Peter Cahill for the Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota, the largest trial in the upper Midwest state that serves Hennepin County, Chauvin has been found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by Chauvin while being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill. During the arrest of Floyd, the white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds after he was handcuffed and lying face down. According to several witnesses, he cried out “I can’t breathe” several times to the officer without any intervention from two other MPD officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who assisted Chauvin in restraining Floyd.

Another officer, Tou Thao, also prevented bystanders from interfering with the arrest and intervening as events unfolded. The other three officers have also been arrested and charged on different accounts of assisting Chauvin in the killing of Floyd.

Immediately after the verdict, mask-wearing Chauvin was handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom after the judge revoked his bail and remanded him to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office. Moments later, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called Tuesday’s verdict “an important step forward for justice” but admitted work has only begun as unrest continues in nearby Brooklyn Center over the fatal April 11 shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year black man, during a traffic stop

“The world watched on May 25, 2020, as George Floyd died with a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Thousands of Minnesotans marched in the streets last summer in the wake of his death—inspiring a movement around the globe. While many of these people never met George, they valued his humanity. They knew what happened was wrong. They called for change, and they demanded justice. A year later, Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murder and faces years behind bars,” said Walz, who declared a statement of emergency for Minnesota’s largest city on Monday.

Walz also said that accountability in the courtroom is only the first step.

“No verdict can bring George back, and my heart is with his family as they continue to grieve his loss. Minnesota mourns with you, and we promise the pursuit of justice for George does not end today,” said Walz. “True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again. And the tragic death of Daunte Wright this week serves as a heartbreaking reminder that we still have so much more work to do to get there.”

As noted by Walz, Wright’s shooting has set off a second round of protest in Minneapolis and across the nation similar to the unrest and demonstrations that occurred after Floyd’s death. Wright died on a Sunday evening in the nearby Washington County suburb of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis.

Wright was shot and killed by Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, who police officials have said accidentally shot Wright thinking that she was tasing him instead. On April 14, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Potter for the shooting death of Daunte Wright.

After consultation with the Washington County Attorney’s Office, Potter was booked into the Hennepin County Jail on probable cause second-degree manslaughter charges. The Washington County Attorney’s said the case against Potter remains active and an ongoing investigation. “The (Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) has been and will continue to work with the Washington County Attorney’s Office as the case progresses,” said a BCA press officer. 

Following today’s verdict against Chauvin, Walz echoes the words of Martin Luther King Jr. by noting that that justice will not be complete until Black people are seen and treated equally by law enforcement in Minnesota and across the U.S.

“Too many Black people have lost—and continue to lose—their lives at the hands of law enforcement in our state. Our communities of color cannot go on like this. Our police officers cannot go on like this. Our state simply cannot go on like this. And the only way it will change is through systemic reform,” said Walz. “We must rebuild, restore, and reimagine the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. We must tackle racial inequities in every corner of society—from health to homeownership to education. We must come together around our common humanity.

“Let us continue on this march towards justice,” Walz concluded.

In the wake of the Chauvin case, large police and National Guard presence remains in and around government buildings and along commercial corridors in Minneapolis. Sometimes violent protests, mostly on behalf of police against peaceful demonstrators and the media, have also continued in Brooklyn Center over the past week, where more than 100 people have been arrested.

On Monday, Walz issued a request under the federal Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) to bring assistance from Ohio and Nebraska to Minnesota in advance of the trial verdict. The EMAC support is part of the state’s response to requests for public safety assistance from local governments, he said.

“As the world awaits a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, we need support in our efforts to preserve the First Amendment right of peaceful protests while protecting public safety,” said Walz. “I am grateful to our colleagues in Ohio and Nebraska for their willingness to provide assistance and relief to our State troopers and law enforcement officers as they continue to work to keep the peace in our communities.”

Earlier Tuesday, President Joe Biden during a morning meeting at the White House echoed Walz’s called for peace, noting he had spoken with the George Floyd family as the nation waited for the early afternoon verdict.

“And they’re a good family.  And they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is.  I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is — I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now and not hearing me say that,” said Biden. “But — so, we just talked a little.  I wanted to know how they were doing, just personally.  And we talked about personal things.”

[ will continue to update this story as more information is released]

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