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Derek Chauvin Convicted of George Floyd’s Murder

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BLM Protest: Photo Chris Tuite

BLM Protest: Photo Chris Tuite

The prosecution left the jury with these final words Monday:

“You were told George Floyd died because his heart was too big. But, he died because Derek Chauvin’s heart was too small.”

Tuesday, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all three charges against the former Minneapolis police officer, including second-degree unintentional murder, for the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

There was a collective and palpable sense of relief as the judge read the verdicts and Chauvin was ultimately taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.  

After testimony given by 45 witnesses, the jury was tasked with determining the guilt or innocence of Chauvin, but in many ways they were tasked with so much more. This jury did for George Floyd and his family what another jury failed to do for Rodney King and what countless juries have failed to do for countless victims before and since.

Wall spray painted with the words “George Floyd Mattered RIP.” Photo by Lorie Shaull.

Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison with potential for extended sentencing based on certain factors, including abuse of governmental authority and the presence of a minor as Floyd was killed. Judge Peter Cahill will hand down the sentence sometime in the coming weeks.

Despite Eric Nelson’s best efforts to defend Chauvin by painting both Floyd and the bystanders as a threat, the guilty verdicts returned after just 11 hours of deliberation indicate that the jury believed what they, and the whole world, saw with their own eyes in the graphic and heartbreaking video filmed by a witness.

Floyd was slowly killed with his face down on the street, handcuffed and desperately gasping for breath as Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. 

Neither Chauvin nor the other responding officers attempted to give Floyd medical aid, even as he remained still and silent for approximately three minutes wherein he had no pulse and was obviously not resisting.  

In this one verdict, the jury put a dent in precedent that has insulated abusive police officers and failed to protect the public, especially those from communities of color. 

What happened to George Floyd is not new, or unique — in fact, it is devastatingly common. However, the verdict is a turn in those tragic norms and will hopefully set a whole new precedent that puts the people above the blue line. 

As Floyd’s brother Philonise said in statement after Tuesday’s verdict:

“Justice for George is freedom for all.”

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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