Guilty on all counts: The Derek Chauvin Trial



A Minnesota jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges against him in the case concerning the late George Floyd. The decision represents a milestone in the racial history of the United States and a challenge of law enforcement’s treatment of Black Americans. While a small victory for the Black community, the community hopes for similar decisions in the future

Jemiah Clemons, Opinions Editor

On April 20, 2021 the jury found former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd, whose killing sparked worldwide protests. After about a day of deliberations, the jury convicted Chauvin on unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict and immediately incited a loud cheer from the crowd of peaceful protesters gathered outside. Chauvin showed little to no reaction after the verdict announcement. Judge Cahill announced the revocation of bail and police officers took Chauvin away in handcuffs. Cahill then determined the final sentencing will take place in eight weeks.  

The jury, containing six White people, four Black people and two multiracial people witnessed the jaw dropping testimonies. In his closing argument, prosecutor Steve Schleicher urged jurors to focus on the video showing Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, said that while the state called a series of experts to testify asphyxia caused Floyd’s death, it “flies in the face of reason and common sense” to suggest that Floyd’s drug use and heart disease did not play a role, Nelson said.  Nelson argued Floyd’s underlying heart disease, adrenaline and the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system caused his death. However, this did not cause Floyd’s death.

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, 25 for third-degree murder, and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. In Chauvin’s case, prosecutors introduced a series of “aggravating factors” that could add time to Chauvin’s sentence. They include committing a crime in front of a child — a nine year old who witnessed the killing — and using police authority to commit a crime.  As for the other officers involved, those men will face trial in August. Until then, the world awaits the decision regarding Chauvin’s sentencing.