It is one of the most important trials for the United States in recent years: the defendant Chauvin has been found guilty in the trial of the killed African American George Floyd.
In the case of the killed African American George Floyd, a US court found the accused white ex-police officer guilty – on all three counts.
Judge Peter Cahill said on Tuesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chauvin faces a long prison sentence. The judge will determine the exact amount of the sentence later. Chauvin’s defense may still appeal the verdict.
Derek Chauvin: The ex-police officers await a prison sentence – the length is still unclear. (Source: Court TV / AP / dpa)
Chauvin faces up to 40 years imprisonment
The most serious charge against Chauvin was second degree murder without intent. Up to 40 years in prison in Minnesota. According to German law, this would be more like manslaughter. In addition, Chauvin was also accused of third degree murder, which can be punished with up to 25 years in prison. He also had to answer for second degree manslaughter, which resulted in ten years in prison. This charge would correspond to negligent homicide under German law. Chauvin had pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution demanded a guilty verdict against Chauvin on all three counts in their closing argument on Monday. The white ex-police officer killed Floyd by using his knee: “That wasn’t police work. That was murder,” said prosecutor Steve Schleicher. “That was nine minutes and 29 seconds of shocking abuse of office.”
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson had argued that Chauvin’s use of force was justified because Floyd resisted arrest. He was also of the opinion that Floyd’s death was not primarily due to violence, but mainly to existing heart problems and drug residues in his blood.
Floyd’s family answers Joe Biden’s call
Floyd’s family lawyer called the conviction a “turning point in history”. “GUILTY!” Wrote Ben Crump on Twitter Tuesday after jury found Floyd’s chauvin guilty of all charges in the trial of Floyd’s death. “Justice, well deserved, has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. This judgment marks a turning point in history.” It sends a clear message that law enforcement is also accountable. Crump continued: “Justice for black America is justice for all America!” He also shared a video showing Floyd’s family answering a call from US President Joe Biden.
“We are all so relieved,” said the president on the phone call. “It is really important.” At the same time, Biden promised measures to combat police violence against black people – and jokingly offered the family the prospect of inviting them to Washington on board the presidential plane, Air Force One. Vice President Kamala Harris also participated in the call. “This is a day of justice in America,” said the country’s first black vice president. History will “look back on this moment”.
Ex-President Barack Obama also welcomed the guilty verdict against Chauvin. “Today a jury did the right thing,” wrote the first black president in US history in the short message service Twitter. “But true justice demands much more.” Obama was probably alluding to the debate about reforms in the police force, which is repeatedly accused of violent attacks against minorities, but also to the discrimination against African Americans in other areas.
Twelve jurors passed judgment
According to the US legal system, the decision of guilt or innocence fell to the jury. There was no time limit for the deliberations of the twelve jury members, which had been going on since Monday afternoon. However, they were no longer allowed to go home during the talks, but were accommodated in a hotel. Their judgment had to be made unanimously. In this case, the jury will remain anonymous until further notice for security reasons.
The 46-year-old Floyd was killed in an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25 last year. Chauvin held the knee of Floyd, arrested on counterfeit charges, for nine and a half minutes, even though the African-American repeatedly complained that he could not breathe. Floyd’s death, captured on a cell phone video, sparked international outrage and sparked nationwide protests against racism and police violence in the United States.
Protests in Minneapolis the day before the verdict: Floyd’s death sparked protests in many cities. (Source: MediaPunch / imago images)
Floyd’s death sparked a wave of protests
Floyd’s fate had triggered a wave of demonstrations against racism and police violence in the USA in the middle of the corona pandemic and developed into the largest protest movement in decades.
The expectations of the trial were therefore immense in the USA: many people, including many blacks, had hoped for a verdict that would set an example against racism and police violence. Even US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he was praying that the “correct judgment” would be made. New protests were expected in the event of an acquittal or a low prison sentence.
Immediately before the verdict was announced, hundreds of Black Lives Matter activists had gathered in front of the massively secured courthouse in central Minneapolis. Among other things, they chanted the name of George Floyd, the words “Stop killing us” and “Chauvin – guilty”. Floyd’s ex-partner Courtney Ross said ahead of the verdict that a guilty verdict would not only be a sign of justice for Floyd, but also a tailwind for the fight against racism.
Large contingent of the National Guard in action
Because of the trial, a large number of security forces were deployed in Minneapolis, including soldiers from the National Guard. Governor Tim Walz had previously called for peaceful demonstrations to avoid riots and “chaos”.
Chauvin had been released after Floyd’s death. He was released on bail and was present throughout the trial. In addition to Chauvin, three other ex-police officers involved in the operation against Floyd have been charged, who will stand trial in a separate trial from 23 August. They are charged with aid. They too could face long prison sentences.