Derek Chauvin Convicted on Three Counts

Posted by on Apr 29, 2021 in Current Events
George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd wipes his eyes during a news conference, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, after the verdict was read in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd spoke at a news conference after the verdict was given for Derek Chauvin. Credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

On March 8, 2021, Derek Chauvin was put on trial for George Floyd’s death. The jury reached a verdict on April 20, 2021, almost eleven months after Floyd’s death.

The Charges Against Derek Chauvin

Chauvin faced three charges in the death of George Floyd: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Second-degree murder means killing someone while also committing another felony at the same time, whether you intended to kill the person or not. This applies because Chauvin was also charged with assaulting Floyd during the arrest and Floyd’s death.  

Third-degree murder means killing someone while committing an extremely dangerous act, without regard for human life. The prosecution argued that Chauvin knew that kneeling on Floyd’s neck was dangerous and that doing it anyway was a violation of police procedure.

Second-degree manslaughter means killing someone while performing an action that you know could cause serious harm.

What Happened at the Trial?

The prosecution argued that Chauvin knew that what he was doing was dangerous and against his department’s protocol, but he did it anyway. Floyd repeatedly stated that he couldn’t breathe. Several bystanders (including a nine-year-old girl) shouted at Chauvin that he was hurting Floyd and needed to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck. But Officer Chauvin did not. The lawyers defending Derek Chauvin argued for a mistrial. They claimed that the jurors had been exposed to prejudicial information that would make it impossible for them to make an unbiased decision. The motion for mistrial was dismissed by Judge Peter Cahill. In closing arguments, the defense also claimed that Chauvin’s use of force was difficult, but “authorized.”

Chauvin’s jury consisted of six white jurors, four African American jurors, and two multiracial jurors. Five were men and seven were women. Their professions ranged from youth volunteer to IT professional, from cardiac nurse to chemist. No more information about these people has been made public.

The jury deliberated for less than 24 hours before delivering a guilty verdict on all three counts. After Judge Cahill read the verdict, Chauvin’s lawyer requested bail, which was denied.

What Happens Now?

Chauvin remains in police custody and must wait another eight weeks to start the sentencing phase of the trial. He faces a possible total sentence of 75 years, though that is unlikely as he has no prior convictions.

The other Minneapolis police officers who assisted in Floyd’s arrest last year (J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao) have been fired from the Minneapolis police department and will face trial together beginning August 23, 2021. The charges against them are aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

What Do You Think? The Derek Chauvin trial and verdict was a stressful time for many Americans. If you are comfortable doing so, take this opportunity to write a few paragraphs about your reaction to the verdict.