Minnesota jurors have found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd's neck for over nine minutes while Floyd repeatedly said "I can't breathe," faces 40 years jail time, a rarely seen punishment for police brutality cases. For many, the verdict provides a semblance of justice for African Americans who have suffered or wrongfully killed by police.
Derek Chauvin Found Guilty on 3 Counts of Murder
While thousands of National Guards troops were sent to Minneapolis, peaceful protests have taken place outside of the courthouse every day since the trial began.
According to data from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, since 2006, only 121 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter for instances where officers were involved in killings, with less than half of these cases resulting in a conviction. In many cases where officers were involved in a killing, such as the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, the names of the involved officers weren't even included.
In the rare cases where a police officer goes on trial, they are protected by a 1989 Supreme Court ruling which states that reasonable use of force should be determined by the officer's perspective at the moment. In 1993, four officers, who were charged with the beating of Rodney King, were acquitted under this ruling.
However, while jurors in Chauvin's trial were also given the same "use of force" definition to consider, video footage of the deadly incident shows that Floyd was unarmed, unable to move, and begging for his life while being pinned to the ground.
The testimony of the Minneapolis Police Department chief was also crucial for the outcome of the trial. Chauvin's former boss said that Chauvin applied excessive force and violated police training. Medical experts also testified that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen.
Chauvin defense lawyers, who argued that Floyd died from a heart condition and traces of drugs in his system, asked jurors to see Chauvin's actions as reasonable given the "totality of circumstance" not evident in the video.
On the stand, Darnella Frazier, the teenager who shot the viral video of Floyd's death, testified that she had spent many nights blaming herself for not saving Floyd's life by physically interfering. "But it [saving Floyd's life] is not what I should have done," she said, "it's what he [Chauvin] should have done."