DISGRACED FORMER US police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd.
The killing of Floyd, an African-American man from Minneapolis, sent shockwaves around the watching world after a video surfaced online last May appearing to show Chauvin kneeling on the victim’s neck during an attempted arrest while Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd had been accused of using a counterfeit $20 note to buy cigarettes from a nearby shop.
It later emerged that Chauvin had knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd, 46, lost consciousness during the arrest and later died.
His death sparked violent protests in the US and demonstrations in solidarity across the world including in cities like Dublin with many calling for major reforms to the police system in the US and greater accountability.
Chauvin was eventually arrested and subsequently charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He pled not guilty to all three at trial.
A jury of seven women and five men in Minneapolis disagreed, convicting him on all counts. They took less than two days to deliberate on the verdict following a three-week trial. Chauvin could now face up to 75 years in prison.
Jurors heard testimony from 45 witnesses during the three-week trial including testimony from police officials, bystanders and medical experts.
Multiple hours of video evidence, including never-before-publicised footage from the arrest also featured as part of the trial.
#BREAKING Former police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of the second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd during an arrest last May | Read more: https://t.co/SbFG8U0r2f pic.twitter.com/8phrcG6jYK
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 20, 2021
The verdict ultimately hinged on whether the jury agreed with the notion put forward by the prosecution that Chauvin’s use of force was excessive and therefore both illegal and a key contributing factor to Floyd’s death.
The defence argued that Chauvin behaved like any "reasonable police officer" and pointing to other factors, like heart disease and the exhaust fumes from nearby cars, as contributors to Floyd’s death.
Ultimately the jury which, according to court records, was comprised of four white women, two white men, three black men, one black woman and two multiracial women, found Chauvin guilty on all counts.
Ben Crump, who served as lawyer for Floyd’s family, hailed the victory as a landmark moment for civil rights and predicted int could serve as the catalyst for further reforms within the police and their handling of cases involving minorities.
Crump tweeted: "Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd's family. This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement."
"Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"
The verdict was greeted with cheers and celebrations outside the courthouse with chants of “George Floyd” and “All three counts” heard among those gathered there.
People also gather at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue to celebrate the guilty verdict
Earlier, US President Joe Biden had thrown his support behind the Floyd family and his case, expressing his hope that the “right” verdict came in.
"I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think (it's)... overwhelming in my view," Biden said.
Three other former police officers are also due to stand trial in connection with Floyd’s death.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng will be tried separately later in the year.