Chauvin Conviction

Crystal Kalin

On Tuesday, April 20th, after a long three weeks of trial and testimony regarding ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, jurors returned a verdict of guilty on all three charges in the murder of George Floyd. This marks the end of an historic, landmark trial with regards to police violence in the U.S., which has remained a hot button issue since Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020.

On Monday, April 19th, the jury deliberated for four hours after closing arguments surrounding George Floyd’s death, leaving the people of Minneapolis in great anticipation. The job of the jurors is to unanimously agree in order to convict or acquit Mr. Chauvin on any of the three charges he is facing in George Floyd’s death: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

On Tuesday, April 20th, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder (indicating that Chauvin assaulted Floyd with his knee, which unintentionally caused Floyd’s death), third-degree murder (indicating that Chauvin acted with a “depraved mind”), and second-degree manslaughter (indicating that Chauvin’s “culpable negligence” caused Floyd’s death). State sentencing mandates for these convictions set a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, 25 years for third-degree murder, and 10 years for manslaughter. However, because Chauvin has no prior criminal record, state laws lower those mandatory maximums for each charge. It is unclear at this time what his final sentencing will be.

After hearing the verdict of the jury, cries of joy and sighs of relief were shared among many of those who had been nervously watching the trial, including many people outside the Cup Foods store where Floyd took his final breaths. Many took to the streets to celebrate the verdict. The scene was crowded with photographers trying to get a perfect shot of this moment in time. One of the photojournalists, Jarrad Henderson, spoke about what he felt and saw that day, saying “They were so relieved and you just felt all of their pain and everything they’ve gone through in the last year…It was really powerful…Strangers were hugging strangers.” Attorney Benjamin Crump said: “This is a victory for those who champion humanity over inhumanity, those who champion justice over injustice, those who champion morals over immorality.”

Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said, regarding the verdict: “When you call out injustice, ears are at attention; when you amplify our message of justice and equity, decision makers take notice; when you stop funding police and their enablers, heads turn; and when you use your power to demand systemic change, Black people will be safe in our country.”

While Chauvin’s conviction does raise awareness on policing inequities in the U.S., it has also further eroded public trust in the police, as an institution. The case has notably marked many historic firsts, leaving many to wonder what the next steps are for our nation as we move forward and attempt to heal.