United States Ex-Cop Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murdering African-American George Floyd after a racially charged trial that was seen as a pivotal test of police responsibility in the United States on Tuesday.
A jury deliberated less than 11 hours before finding the 45-year-old Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer guilty of all three charges against him -- second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. The unanimous verdicts were reached by the racially diverse seven-woman five-man jury.Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison. Three other former police officers involved in Floyd's arrest are to go on trial later this year.
A crowd gathered outside the heavily guarded downtown Minneapolis courtroom erupted in cheers when the verdicts were announced after a three-week trial that had an entire nation on edge.
Chauvin, was seen on video kneeling on the neck of Floyd for more than nine minutes as he lay face down and handcuffed on the ground saying repeatedly "I can't breathe." Darnella Frazier, the teenager who took the video that went viral, said Floyd was "scared" and "begging for his life."
The 46-year-old Floyd's death during his May 25, 2020 arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality around the world.
Ahead of the verdict, cities across the United States had taken steps for potential unrest and National Guard troops have been deployed in Minneapolis. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called members of the Floyd family after the verdicts. "This is a day of justice in America," said Harris, America's first Black vice president. "History will look back at this moment."
Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump hailed the verdict as a landmark victory for civil rights and a springboard to legislation to reform police
forces in their dealings with minorities. Barack Obama, America's first Black president said "a jury did the right thing" but "true justice requires much more."
A retired forensic pathologist called by the defense said Floyd died of cardiac arrest brought on by heart disease and the illegal drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine.Medical experts for the prosecution said Floyd died from a lack of oxygen from Chauvin's knee on his neck and that drugs were not a factor.
Among the 38 witnesses who appeared for the prosecution were some of the eyewitnesses who watched Floyd's arrest and pleaded with Chauvin to get off him.