Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin found guilty of murdering George Floyd

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Yesterday, the fourth judicial district court in the US state of Minnesota found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering US citizen George Floyd. He was then taken into custody until sentencing, and could spend up to 40 years in prison.

George Floyd in 2016.
Image: George Floyd.

Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25, after Chauvin, a Caucasian police officer, pinned Floyd to the ground for over nine minutes and, preventing him from breathing, kneeling on Floyd's neck. Floyd was 46 years old. The incident was recorded on video by a bystander, and the video shows Floyd repeatedly saying "I can't breathe". Floyd's death prompted protests around the world.

45-year-old Chauvin was charged with three different crimes: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The trial began on March 29.

Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd in May 2020.
Image: Darnella Frazier.

In his defense, Chauvin's lawyers argued his actions were "reasonable" and sought to cast doubt on the cause of Floyd's death, arguing a heart condition and the use of illegal drugs by Floyd were to blame. The defense witnesses included both an expert on the use of force by police, and a forensic pathologist. The Associated Press reported that Floyd's system contained both fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Witnesses for the prosecution, including a forensic pathologist, a cardiologist, and a pulmonologist, testified the cause of death was a lack of oxygen — asphyxia — due to the way in which Chauvin pinned Floyd against the ground, and Chauvin used excessive force in violation of his training.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on all three charges after deliberating for two days. Three other Minneapolis police officers, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, have been charged with aiding-and-abetting Chauvin and are awaiting trial. Chauvin and the others were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department the day after Floyd's death.