Guilty: The verdict is in for the killing of George Floyd, the day that changed America
Jurors sided with prosecutors on April 20, in the high-profile trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.
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It’s the end of a historic case for America, but it will never be over for the family of George Floyd.
After deliberating for ten and a half hours, the jury in Derek Chauvin’s trial found the former officer guilty of the killing of George Floyd. So concludes Chauvin’s trial after nearly three weeks of continuous testimony, broadcast across the nation.
Chauvin was charged and found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for his actions on May 25, 2020, when Floyd died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground in the prone position, under the knee of former officer Chauvin, for over nine minutes.
Lawyers for the prosecution and defense concluded their closing arguments on Monday, April 20. Defense attorney Eric Neilson argued Chauvin acted “responsibly,” and asserted that prosecutors were acting on speculations and assumptions.
In the end, Defense lawyers’ tactic to use closing remarks was a means to pull jurors away from the video evidence that shook the world.
Over the course of nearly an hour, Neilson provided as many reasons as possible to test the prosecution’s stack of testimony.
The standard is not what ‘should’ the officer have done in these circumstances, it’s not what ‘could’ the officer have done differently in these circumstances. The standard is what were the facts that were known to this officer at the precise moment he used force,” Neilson said in his closing statements.
It should be noted that defense lawyers never put Chauvin on the stand.
In the end the defense's tactics did not prevail.
The prosecution described Floyd’s final moments in detail, following the video evidence from the multiple angles captured.
Attorney Steve Schleicher told jurors to “believe your eyes,” and later listed and checked each legal element of each offense Chauvin allegedly committed as a way to guide less convinced jurors through the process of condemnation.
“He betrayed the badge and everything it stood for. It’s not how they’re trained. It’s not following the rules,” Schleicher said.
The prosecution needed every single juror to be on their side, given state rules for criminal trials. In contrast, the defense needed only one dissenting juror to avoid conviction.
Earlier on Tuesday President Joe Biden told the press in the Oval Office that the jury reached the “right verdict” in the Chauvin trial. “I think it’s overwhelming, in my view,” he said.
Across the country, Police departments have been bracing for the outcome, with some calling in the National Guard should the verdict go against justice. Buildings and storefronts, for days, have already been building barricades and boarding windows in anticipation for days of unrest.
Chauvin’s trial is over. But the justice system remains broken.