Derek Chauvin verdict: Guilty on all counts in George Floyd's death
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. The 12 jurors deliberated for around 10 hours before deciding to convict Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Live coverage continues on FOX 9 and online at fox9.com/live.
After the verdict was read, Chauvin was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by a Hennepin County sheriff's deputy. Chauvin was booked into Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights at 4:55 p.m. Tuesday after Hennepin County struck an agreement with the Department of Corrections. He will likely remain there until his sentencing, which is expected to be in about two months.
There was no noticeable reaction from the jury as Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict, according to the pool reporter. They all remained still and quiet until they were called upon by the judge.
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, was in the courtroom for the Floyd family during the verdict reading. He was praying during the entire reading, according to the pool reporter.
The prosecution team hugged after the verdict came back guilty on all three charges. Philonise was weeping and hugged the prosecutors. He told the pool reporter afterwards, "I was just praying they would find him guilty. As an African-American, we usually never get justice."
Outside the Hennepin County Courthouse, crowds began celebrating the guilty verdict.
TIMELINE: George Floyd's death to Derek Chauvin's trial
The trial began on March 8 with jury selection. The state and the defense delivered opening arguments on March 29, followed by three weeks of testimony. The jury began deliberations at 4 p.m. on Monday, following closing arguments.
Who are the jurors?
The 12-person jury consists of five men and seven women. Six of the jurors are white, four are Black and two identify as mixed or multiracial. Two of the jurors are in their 20s, three are in their 30s, three are in their 40s, three are in their 50s and one is in their 60s.
The jury had a lot to consider in their deliberations after three weeks of testimony and hearing from 45 witnesses.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivered the closing argument for the state on Monday, making it clear to the jurors the case is not the State of Minnesota vs. police, it is the State of Minnesota vs. Derek Chauvin.
"The defendant is not on trial for being a police officer," Schleicher said. "It’s not the State vs. the police. He’s on trial for who he was, he’s on trial for what he did."
He told the jury they have to set aside any biases that a police officer would ever hurt or kill someone.
Schleicher argued the jury must find that Chauvin acted outside what a reasonable police officer would do, and those actions led to Floyd’s death.
"In your custody means in your care," Schleicher told the jury. He said Chauvin was required, as a police officer, to provide CPR or medical assistance to Floyd—all things he was trained to do.
"He knew what to do, he just didn’t do it," the prosecutor said. "He knew better. He just didn’t do better."
Schleicher’s final comment to the jury: "This wasn’t policing. This was murder."
Defense attorney Eric Nelson took nearly three hours to deliver his closing argument, he had a lot to cover, placing as much doubt into the case as he could. He talked about the crowd of bystanders, the conflicting medical testimony and the role Floyd’s drug use and heart condition may have played in his death.
"Officer Chauvin had no intent to purposely use unlawful force," Nelson argued. "These are officers doing jobs in a highly stressful situation, according to their training, according to the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department. It’s tragic…it’s tragic."
Nelson also addressed the conflicting medical testimony regarding Floyd’s cause of death, telling the jurors, "We have to look at the cause of death to determine if Mr. Floyd died exclusively of asphyxia or if were there other contributing factors that were not the natural result of Mr. Chauvin’s acts. Things that happened that were set in motion before Mr. Chauvin ever arrived."
Nelson said it is "nonsense" for the state to suggest that none of the other factors such as Floyd’s enlarged heart, his heart disease or the drugs he ingested prior to the deadly arrest had any role in Floyd’s death.
In his rebuttal, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury to believe their eyes and all the videos they saw played in court.
"You were told Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that. And now, having seen all the evidence and seeing it, you know the truth," he said. "And the truth of the matter is the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart is too small."
Second-degree murder - unintentional (Minnesota statute 609.19)
Max sentence: < 40 years
Description: Caused the death of George Floyd, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense...namely assault in the third degree.
Third-degree murder - 'depraved mind' (Minnesota statute 609.195)
Max sentence: < 25 years
Description: Caused the death of George Floyd, by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.
Second-degree manslaughter - culpable negligence (Minnesota statute 609.205)
Max sentence: < 10 years
Description: Caused the death of George Floyd by culpable negligence, creating an unreasonable risk and consciously took the chances of causing death or great bodily harm.
What sentence does Chauvin face if convicted?
Here are the presumptive sentences Chauvin is looking at if convicted:
- Second-degree murder – unintentional: 150 months, or 12.5 years
- Third-degree murder – 'depraved mind': 150 months, or 12.5 years
- Second-degree manslaughter – culpable negligence: 48 months, or 4 years
However, prosecutors have said they will ask for an "upward departure" from the sentencing guidelines if Chauvin is convicted. Each charge has a statutory maximum the judge could go up to if he finds "aggravating factors."
Here are some of the aggravating factors prosecutors could argue in Chauvin’s case:
- The victim was treated with particular cruelty for which the individual offender should be held responsible.
- The offense was committed in the presence of a child
- The offender committed the crime as part of a group of three or more offenders who all actively participated in the crime
If Chauvin is convicted of any of the three charges and prosecutors successfully argue for an upward departure, the judge could go as high as the following sentences:
- Second-degree murder – unintentional: up to 40 years
- Third-degree murder – 'depraved mind': up to 25 years
- Second-degree manslaughter – culpable negligence: up to 10 years
George Floyd’s death
George Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 while being detained by Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. The intersection has remained closed to traffic since Floyd's death and has been dubbed George Floyd Square.
A widely-shared video taken by a bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he repeatedly cried, "I can’t breathe."
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the firing of all four officers the following day. Chauvin was arrested and charged with Floyd’s death on May 29 and the three others were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting on June 3.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's report ruled the death of George Floyd a homicide. The updated report stated that George Floyd experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement.