Floyd-killer Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges, arrested
Minneapolis, United States: "Guilty!" exploded the crowd in front of the Minneapolis courthouse Tuesday as the jury's murder verdict against white ex-policeman Derek Chauvin was announced over the loudspeaker.
Derek Chauvin, a fired police officer, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of African-American George Floyd in a case that roiled the United States for nearly a year, exposing deep racial divides.
A racially mixed jury of seven women and five men in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis found the white officer guilty in unanimous decisions on all three charges he faced after a three-week trial.
Chauvin, 45, could face decades in prison for Floyd's death on May 25, 2020, which triggered worldwide demonstrations against racial inequality and is being viewed as a watershed moment in police accountability.
Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump praised the decision as a groundbreaking civil rights win that could pave the way for legislation to change police departments' interactions with minorities.
"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," Crump tweeted.
"Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"
Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, faces up to 40 years in jail on the most serious of three charges: second-degree murder.
On camera, he was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old Black man lay handcuffed facedown in the street, moaning that he "can't breathe."
Derek Chauvin’s bail was immediately revoked as he was led out of the courthouse in handcuffs.— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 20, 2021
Chauvin will be sentenced in two months. He faces a maximum of 75 years in prison. pic.twitter.com/bAs1wsLDgr
The harrowing video, which was regularly shown to the jury during Chauvin's three-week trial, triggered worldwide demonstrations against racial inequality and police brutality.
The nation watched as Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot dead in a Minneapolis suburb by a white policewoman who apparently mistook her pistol for her Taser, and a 13-year-old boy was killed by Chicago police.
Wright's death sparked several nights of protests in Minneapolis, and National Guard troops were deployed in the Minnesota area, where shop windows had been boarded up as a precaution, as well as in the nation's capital, Washington, ahead of a verdict in Chauvin's case.
Any of the bystanders who witnessed Floyd's arrest on May 25, 2020, for allegedly using a bogus $20 bill to purchase a pack of cigarettes was among the 38 witnesses who testified for the prosecution.
Floyd was "scared" and "begging for his life," according to Darnella Frazier, the teen who took the viral video.
"It wasn't right. He was suffering," Frazier said.
Chauvin was dressed in a suit and taking notes on a yellow legal pad every day of the trial, but he only spoke once to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
A conviction on each of the charges — second-degree murder, third-degree murder, or manslaughter — would necessitate a majority verdict from the jury.
Six white women, three Black men, three white men, two mixed-race women, and one Black woman comprised the racially diverse jury.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, three other former police officers, are all charged in Floyd's murder. They are to be tried separately later in the year.
Biden, UK PM Johnson hails Derek Chauvin guilty verdict
President Joe Biden told the family of George Floyd how "relieved" he was Tuesday after a jury declared the white ex-Police officer guilty of murdering 'gentle giant' Black American George Floyd.
"We're all so relieved," Biden said in a phone call that was played on speakerphone and shared on social media by the family in Minneapolis.
"It's really important," Biden said, promising to bring the family to the White House on Air Force One. The President will reportedly deliver remarks on George Floyd's verdict.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday welcomed the verdict finding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of killing Black man George Floyd.
I was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 20, 2021
My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd’s family and friends.
"I was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict," Johnson said on Twitter. "My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd's family and friends."
President Joe Biden called Tuesday on Americans to unite after the guilty verdict in the racially charged murder by a policeman of a Black man and pleaded for protesters to stay clear of violence.
"This is the time for this country to come together, to unite as Americans," he said in nationally televised remarks.
"There are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions at the moment -- agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice," he warned. "We can't let them succeed."
In the courtroom
More than 200 people had gathered to hear the verdict in the case of the man accused of murdering African-American George Floyd, a case that caused worldwide demonstrations against racial discrimination.
"Guilty on all three counts," a man announced over a megaphone, and tears streamed down more than one face in the crowd. "Today we celebrate justice for our city," he added.
"I can't believe it... guilty," said 28-year-old David Mack, who stood on a concrete block to get a better view of the gathering. He had not thought Chauvin would be found guilty.
IMAGE COURTESY OF STAR TRIBUNE VIA TWITTER
A woman emerged from the crowd, unable to speak, and collapsed into the arms of a friend.
Another woman, Amber Young, expressed her relief, her eyes welling up with tears: "Now we can finally start to breathe," she said.
"This year has been so traumatic, I'm now hoping for some healing," she said.
A dozen protesters raised their fists in the air and began shouting, "Black power! Black power!"
Before the verdict was read, one man in the audience waved a bottle of brandy, aiming to crack it open if Chauvin was found guilty.
The road in front of the courthouse was closed to traffic and some cars that were turned away honked in solidarity with the crowd.
Tensions had been that in Minneapolis, which had been rocked by huge protests following Floyd's death last year.
The National Guard has been patrolling the tense area, and most businesses have boarded up their storefronts in case of violence flares up again.
The courthouse was surrounded by armored vehicles, concrete barriers, and 10-foot-high metal fences, a testament to the sensitivity of the event, which sparked the biggest demonstrations against race and police violence in a decade.
With AFP inputs.