A mixture of celebration and relief erupted across America after a Minnesota jury found former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter charges. He was the man in the now-famous video pinning George Floyd to the ground by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
The verdicts cap a three-week trial that riveted the nation as it highlighted a case that brought a reckoning over race and justice in America. The jury came back with a decision after 10 hours of deliberations over two days. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In one of the most consequential verdicts in Minnesota history, Chauvin was found guilty on all counts, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s killing last May. Chauvin is the second police officer in Minnesota to be convicted of killing a civilian while on duty — and the first officer in the state to be held criminally liable in the killing of a Black person.
In downtown Minneapolis, hundreds flooded the plaza in front of the Hennepin County Government Center. A hush fell through the crowd — for only a few moments — as the three verdicts were read: Guilty, guilty, guilty.
Then cheers broke out. People hugged and wept, drivers blared their horns and demonstrators waved sign.
It was a similar sight at George Floyd Square in south Minneapolis, where Floyd died and where activists have continued to protest. People danced and celebrated at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue well into the night, and listened to speeches from community leaders and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Wright is the 20-year-old Black motorist who was shot and killed by a white Brooklyn Center police officer earlier this month. The former police chief there said Kim Potter had intended to stun the man with her Taser instead of firing her gun. Both have since resigned, and Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
“I think this is a win. If you want to call it a win. I’m happy that justice won,” he said. “But we have a lot of work to do still.”
Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, which set off worldwide protests, violence and a reexamination of racism and policing in America.
The jury reached its verdict Tuesday, less than a year after Chauvin, who is white, pinned the 46-year-old Black man down with a knee to his neck last May.
After the decision was announced, crowds across the country celebrated, honking car horns, streaming through the streets with signs of Floyd’s face and breaking down in tears. But the joy was tinged with the realization that much work remains to be done to bring about lasting change.
In Houston’s Third Ward, a historically Black neighborhood where Floyd grew up, James Walker, 39, called the verdict bittersweet.
Floyd’s “life is still gone. I wouldn’t call it a celebration. Let’s call it a premature step for what needs to be for everybody … I’m happy for the outcome,” Walker said.