Marking a significant moment in the fight against racism in America, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes last year, was found guilty of all three charges against him in one of the most momentous trials in recent history.
The verdict comes about 11 months after a bystander video showed Chauvin impassively kneeling on the neck and back of Floyd, handcuffed and lying prone on the street, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020. Under the officer’s knees, the 46-year-old Black man gasped for air, repeatedly exclaiming “I can’t breathe” and ultimately went silent. The official reports downplayed the scenario with several omissions regarding the bystanders pleading the police to relent. But it was only through videos filmed by concerned bystanders that the public first learned that Chauvin had pinned Floyd to the ground pressing his knee on his neck, despite his continuous cries for help, gasping for air and claiming that he could not breathe.
George Floyd’s fate sparked massive protests across the United States of America. All around the nation the people thronged the streets carrying the banner of “Black Lives Matter” thereby ushering the Black Lives Matter Movement with Floyd’s last words “I can’t Breathe” becoming a representation of the existing racism in America.
After a 10 hour deliberation over the charges levied against Chauvin, the Jury found former Minneapolis police officer guilty on all the counts he faced over the death of George Floyd i.e. unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin now faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.
The trial has been one of the most closely watched cases in recent memory, setting off a national reckoning on police violence and systemic racism even before the trial commenced. Judge Peter Cahill thanked the jury members for their “heavy-duty jury service.” Chauvin was remanded into custody as the jury was dismissed, and Cahill said sentencing is expected in eight weeks.
[To be updated with the detailed brief of the Court’s Verdict]
Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has reported this story.
Source: NPR and CNN
Image Credits: New York Times