Ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin is led out of court cuffed Tuesday, as cheers erupt outside
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty on ALL three charges of murder and manslaughter in death of 46-year-old George Floyd
The jury returned its verdict on Tuesday afternoon after just 10 and a half hours of deliberation
As the verdict was read out Chauvin, who had not spoken during trial except to state that he would not take the stand in his own defense, looked on silently in the Hennepin County courtroom
Jurors spent 15 days weeks listening to testimony about the day George Floyd died under the weight of Chauvin’s knee during an arrest outside the Cup Foods convenience store in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020
Defense wrapped up their arguements in a week trying to prove that Floyd died from drug and health related issues
The jury had not sent back any questions to the judge or asked to review any video or hundreds of exhibits entered in the course of the trial in one pass
Judge Peter Cahill thanked the jury for not only jury service but ‘heavy duty jury service’
Cheers rose from the crowds that had gathered outside the courthouse and down at the intersection of 38th and Chicago now known as George Floyd Square
Chauvin faces a minimum sentence of twelve and half years and maximum of 40 years if he serves terms for each charge concurrently
If served consecutively, Chauvin faces between 29 and 75 years at sentencing scheduled to happen in eight weeks
The Minnesota police officer accused of crushing a man’s neck until he died has benn convicted in the deaath of the victim. Derek Chauvin Tueasday was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
The jury returned its verdict on Tuesday afternoon after just 10 and a half hours of deliberation.
As the verdict was read out Chauvin looked on silently in the Hennepin County courtroom where jurors spent three weeks listening to testimony about the day Floyd, 46, died under the weight of the police sergeant’s knee during an arrest on May 25, 2020.
Judge Peter Cahill thanked the jury on behalf of the state of Minnesota for not only jury service but ‘heavy duty jury service.’
The state moved immediately to have Chauvin’s bail revoked pending sentencing which will happen in eight weeks. Judge Cahill did so and Chauvin was remanded into custody taken from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Chauvin, 45, faces a minimum sentence of twelve and half years and maximum of 40 years if he serves terms for each charge concurrently. If served consecutively, he faces between 29 and 75 years.
Cheers rose from the crowds that had gathered outside the courthouse and down at the intersection of 38th and Chicago now known as George Floyd Square. Cup Foods, the store in which Floyd was last seen alive, shuttered its doors ahead of the decision.
Floyd’s younger brother, Philonise, 39, who took a knee at the courthouse steps at the start of the trial, was in court to hear the verdict read. He hugged Attorney General Keith Ellison and trial attorney Jerry Blackwell, whose voice was the first and last heard by the jury as he delivered both the state’s opening statement and their final rebuttal.
The jury sent their notice that a verdict had been reached at 2.30pm local time as Minneapolis and the country braced for potential violence stemming from the decision. Jurors had not sent back any questions to the judge or asked to review any of the hours of video or hundreds of exhibits entered in the course of the trial.
Judge Cahill is now expected to move immediately to sentencing and a so-called Blakely hearing as the state has filed a motion asking for sentences upwards of the state’s presumptive guidelines.
According to those guidelines both second and third degree murder charges carry a sentence of 12 years, with a discretionary range between 10 and 15, while second-degree manslaughter carries a sentence of four, with a discretionary range of three to five.
Chauvin waived his right for the matter to be heard by a jury so the judge alone will consider the aggravating factors brought by the state.
Prosecutors’ motion claims that Floyd was particularly vulnerable as he was handcuffed, that he was treated with ‘particular cruelty,’ that Chauvin had a position of authority, more than three people were involved and the crime was committed in front of children.
Several minors were among the bystanders that day – the youngest, nine-year-old Judeah, testified in court.
The specter of an appeal already looms with Judge Cahill himself admitting Monday that Congresswoman Maxine Waters may have handed the defense ‘something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned’.
He was referring to the California Democrat’s words on the eve of closing statements when she called for protesters to ‘get more confrontational’ if the jury did not return a verdict of ‘guilty, guilty, guilty’.
The verdict came as a devastating blow to the three other officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death – Thomas Lane, 38; J Alexander Keung, 27; and Tou Thao, 35 – who are set to face trial on charges for aiding and abetting Chauvin’s crimes in August.
The state of Minnesota charged Derek Chauvin with Second-degree murder and was found guilty Second degree murder which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. However, because Chauvin does not have any prior convictions sentencing guidelines recommend he serve twelve and half years.
Prosecutors had to convince the jury that Chauvin assaulted or attempted to assault Floyd and in doing so inflicted substantial bodily harm, a ‘substantial causal factor’ to his death.
On the second count of Second-degree manslaughter, he was found guilty which carries a possible sentence of four to 10 years. Jurors concluded that Derek Chauvin caused Floyd’s death through negligence that created an unreasonable risk, and consciously took the chance of causing severe injury or death.
The third count was Third-degree murder for which he was also found guilty. For this conviction he faces twelve and half years to 25 years.
Over 15 days of testimony the jury of seven men and five women – six white, four black and two bi-racial, the prosecution called 45 witnesses to testify on Floyd’s death and presented hundreds of pieces of evidence.
In his opening statement, trial attorney Jerry Blackwell told the jury that Chauvin had betrayed the badge he wore on his heart. He said the former officer had violated police policy and trampled the sanctity of human life.
After presenting to the court with the nine minutes 29 seconds of that the defendant subjected Floyd to subdual restraint and neck compression, he concluded: ‘You can believe your eyes’ he said, ‘That it’s a homicide, that it’s a murder.’
Countering that view defense attorney Eric Nelson, said the truth could only be viewed through a far wider lens.
This was all about reason, doubt and common sense. Common sense would tell the jury that what they had seen with their own eyes was only one part of a much bigger picture, Nelson said.
He said, ‘We have to examine the totality of the evidence. That’s what this case is ultimately about, the evidence. It is nothing more than that.’
As defense rebutal sought to play down emotions from the scenes of Floyd’s death and the testimony of a host of eyewitnesses brought by the state, a heavy fear of what might happen when the verdict came down gripped the city of Minneapolis.
The downtown area was shored up with boards nailed over the windows of businesses downtown and the concrete blockades, steel fences and bails of barbed wire embracing the court and government buildings.
More than 3,000 members of the National Guard were called in to bolster the 1,100 public safety officers already in place. National Guard presence was felt as armored vehicles were seen parked in serried rank not only at the government buildings but in store parking lots, intersections and sidewalks across the city.
The city was reported to have spent more than $1million on security in a four-stage plan dubbed Operation Safety Net, which kicked off with jury selection and entered its final stage with the verdict announcement.
The tension ratcheted with the April 11 shooting of another young Black man, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was killed during a traffic stop by Brooklyn Center police barely ten miles from where Chauvin stood trial.
The verdict brings to an end a trial that has been dogged by drama and threats of derailment that started before the jury was even empaneled, with the city’s announcement of their $27million civil settlement with the Floyd family.
Nelson made the last of his many bids for a mistrial on the back of statements from Rep Waters.
Although Justice Perker Cahill, the presiding Judge called Rep. Waters’ comments ‘abhorrent’ he denied defense attempts to obtain a mistrial and their contention that the jury could no longer be considered ‘untainted’.
Nelson had tried on many occasions to have the trial delayed and moved out of Hennepin County, but Judge Cahill would hear of neither. There was not a county in the state, he said, that had not heard of Chauvin and Floyd and no span of time would be great enough for the case to have been forgotten by any.
The judge also refused repeated bids by defense to have the jury sequestered ahead of deliberations. The defense attorney’s most recent bid came on the heels of the police shooting of Daunte Wright.
Chauvin’s sentence will rely heavily on a pre-sentencing investigation during which his character and habits – things not touched on in trial – will be taken into consideration.
Ahead of the trial the prosecution lobbied to have eight of Chauvin’s prior arrests in which they argue he used excessive force admitted in court.
Judge Cahill [photo, left], deemed all but two inadmissible on the grounds that the incidents were not similar enough and that the prosecution were improperly trying to show Chauvin’s propensity to resort to unreasonable force.
At the time he made his decision Cahill said that the state was simply trying ‘to depict Chauvin as a “thumper”‘.
Ultimately the prosecution decided not to make the arrests part of their case-in-chief but they may be used in any bid to see Chauvin handed down a higher sentence then allowed by sentencing guidelines if convicted.
A second ground on which the prosecution could also ask for this applies to ‘crimes committed in front of children’. The state called nine-year-old Judeah as a witness possibly with this in mind.
According to the Minnesota sentencing guidelines, the presumptive sentence for a person such as Chauvin with no criminal history is the same for murder in the third and unintentional murder in the second; 12 and a half years. But the judge has discretion to sentence anywhere between ten years and eight months to 15 years.
If the judge rules that aggravating factors are present and departs from the guidelines, the maximum sentence would be 40 years for second-degree murder, 25 years for third-degree murder and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.