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Ex Cop found Guilty

Verdict sets off jubilation around city

By Michael Leighton

People in Minneapolis cheer Tuesday after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd. (AP photo)

Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck in a case that touched off worldwide protests, violence and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.

Chauvin, 45, could be sent to prison for decades.

The verdict set off jubilation around Minneapolis. People instantly flooded the surrounding streets downtown, running through traffic with banners. Cars blared their horns. Floyd family members who had gathered at a Minneapolis conference room could be heard cheering.

The jury of six white people and six Black or multiracial people came back with its verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. Chauvin was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

His face was obscured by a COVID-19 mask, and little reaction could be seen beyond his eyes darting around the courtroom. His bail was immediately revoked and he was led away with his hands cuffed behind his back. Sentencing will be in two months.

In Portland, city leaders, including police and other law enforcement officials, issued statements in support of the jury’s decision.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who said he hoped Chauvin would be found guilty on all charges, declared a state of emergency in the city in advance of the verdict to address potential protests.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt released a statement saying the significance of the guilty verdicts cannot be overstated.

“This trial was vastly more than just a police officer on trial for the murder of a man. It was about humanity and sanctity of Black life. It proved excessive force is a weapon,” Schmidt said.

Elected on a platform of supporting police reforms last May, Schmidt said prosecuting Chauvin delivered justice in one case, but by itself cannot transform the criminal justice system that took Floyd’s life.

“Now, we must take what we know—what we’ve learned from this trial—and find the strength to bring about transformative change in institutions across our country, and to heal and reestablish trust. This moment must serve to remind us of the tremendous gulf between where we are and where we truly must be,” Schmidt said.

Daryl Turner, executive director of the Portland Police Association, issued a statement declaring that the Minnesota jury had imposed justice in finding Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd.

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin listens as his defense attorney gives closing arguments in his murder trial in Minneapolis on Monday, April 19. Chauvin is charged in the May 25 death of George Floyd. (Court TV photo via AP)

“This is the first step in our Nation’s healing as we continue to rebuild trust with the communities we serve,” he said.

“Nearly a year ago, we wrote that ‘what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer is revolting, incomprehensible, and unacceptable. What we saw in that video—Mr. Floyd pleading for his life—should send chills down the spine of every law enforcement officer and citizen in this country. This tragedy is inconsistent with our oath to protect and serve, it is inconsistent with the job entrusted to us by our communities, and it is in complete opposition to everything we are trained to do.’ Those words are still true today,” Turner said.

Acting Portland Police Chief Chris Davis agreed with the Minneapolis Chief of Police who said that Derek Chauvin’s actions were beyond the bounds of the law and what is expected of police officers in the performance of their duties.

“The encounter with George Floyd that resulted in his death spurred a critical mass across the country demanding police reform and accountability. All community members should be treated with fairness, equity, dignity and professionalism no matter their race," Davis said.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 after being arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market. He panicked, pleaded that he was claustrophobic and struggled with police when they tried to put him in a squad car. They put him on the ground instead.

The centerpiece of the case was the excruciating bystander video of Floyd gasping repeatedly, “I can’t breathe” and onlookers yelling at Chauvin to stop as the officer pressed his knee on or close to Floyd’s neck for what authorities say was 9 1/2 minutes. Floyd slowly went silent and limp.


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