Derek Michael Chauvin, Minnesota former police officer, was found guilty of murder in the second and third-degree along with manslaughter in the second-degree. It was the final verdict of the jury after nine hours of deliberations on April 20, ending the trial lasting just under a month with proceedings starting at the end of March.
Chauvin has been found guilty on all counts, including second degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughterpic.twitter.com/KsGsJTAsQM
— Jack Hadfield 👍🇬🇧 (@JackHadders) April 20, 2021
Conviction on the top count of second-degree murder means the 12-member jury unanimously agreed that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death during the process of a felony assault.
The jury’s vote rejected the defense claim that there might have been other medical reasons why Floyd died, deliberating that Floyd killed him by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.
Derek Chauvin leaving the courtroom in handcuffs after the jury found him guilty on all counts pic.twitter.com/9FMNTWrxzF
— Allan Smith (@akarl_smith) April 20, 2021
The National File reports that Floyd’s illegal drug use and pre-existing heart disease were claimed to be the cause of his death by the defense, but they also told jurors not to rule out any possibilities, such as carbon monoxide exposure.
Floyd was investigated for reportedly selling off a bogus $20 bill while trying to purchase cigarettes from a corner store; according to National File: Floyd spent 20 to 30 minutes in a Mercedes Benz car with his friends before the cops arrived.
Eric Nelson (Chauvin’s lead defense attorney) said in his statement, “While they were in the car, Mr. Floyd consumed what were thought to be two Percocet pills (later revealed to be a mixture of meth and fentanyl),” revealing that his friends would later testify that “Mr. Floyd fell asleep in the car, and that they couldn’t wake him up.”
When approached by police, Nelson said, “Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth in an effort to conceal them,” adding that surveillance videos from across the street later indicate the evidence of “further concealment of controlled substances.”
Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, also admitted that after taking drugs with Floyd, she felt she would die and that their drug dealer was in the car with them at the time of Floyd’s arrest. Floyd died due to preexisting heart disease, an inhuman level of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his bloodstream, and exposure to carbon monoxide in the form of vehicle fumes from a nearby police car, according to a medical specialist, as reported by TheFile.
Prosecutors tried to concentrate jurors’ attention on the 9 minutes, 29 seconds they said Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck during closing arguments. However, Chauvin’s defense counsel told them that “the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds” of the interaction.
As previously reported, recently on Monday’s hearings on April 5, Nelson questioned Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo with a police bodycam footage from former Officer Alexander Kueng, which reveals Chauvin’s knee appeared to be on Floyd’s shoulder blade rather than on Floyd’s neck in the original video captured by the bystander Darnella Frazier.
Arradondo agreed with Nelson’s analysis of the bodycam. The prosecution, however, took the stand immediately after and was quick to highlight that this was one specific moment “at a time when the ambulance had already arrived [and] very shortly before they loaded Mr. Floyd onto the gurney.”
When Lt. Johnny Mercil, who teaches Minneapolis Police Department use-of-force policies and taught a use-of-force training class attended by Chauvin in 2018, was shown the same picture of Chauvin kneeling with his knee on Floyd’s neck, he explained that officers are not taught this, but it is equivalent to ”using bodyweight to control” technique, which was allowable in this case. Mercil said Chauvin’s use of force was not a neck constraint and appeared to be a ”bodyweight hold” based on the image.
Witnesses testified in support of both arguments, but the medical examiner who performed Floyd’s autopsy testified that it was ultimately the police restraint that overwhelmed Floyd’s already overburdened heart.
Many people were not surprised by the guilty verdict, given the numerous instances of seeming intimidation of the jury by protestors and elected officials.
“If George Floyd’s murderer is not sentenced, just know that all hell is gonna break loose,” warned Black Lives Matter activist Maya Echols. “Don’t be surprised when buildings are on fire. Just sayin’.” Echols deleted the video after backlash.
Last weekend, Representative Maxine Waters said, “This is guilty for murder. I don’t know whether it’s third degree, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s first-degree murder.” If Chauvin is not found guilty of first-degree murder, she says then, “we gotta stay on the streets; we gotta get more active, we got to get more confrontational, we got to make sure they know we mean business.” Waters’ remarks were characterized as “abhorrent” by the judge who presided over the case, implying that they could be used as evidence in any appellate case brought by Chauvin.
When Chauvin is sentenced in eight weeks, he may face a penalty of 75 years maximum in jail.
In advance of the ruling, video footage uploaded to Twitter shows a US National Guard vehicle moving towards downtown Minneapolis, with many predicting violent riots on the streets regardless of the outcome.
🚨🇺🇸 | NEW: US National Guard on the move in downtown Minneapolis ahead of Derek Chauvin verdict
— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) April 20, 2021