After a day of deliberation the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges against him in the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin was found guilty on charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20. Chauvin was the Police Officer who held Floyd in a restraint by placing his knee on Floyd’s shoulder or neck area, Floyd would later die after being released from the restraint.
Chauvin will be sentenced in approximately eight weeks on all three charges. According to The New York Times, the presumed sentence for second-degree murder is 12.5 years in Minnesota but the prosecution has requested a longer sentence.
President Joe Biden expressed support for the prosecution hours before the verdict was reached. Biden said to reporters at the White House that the evidence was “overwhelming” to him.
“[The Floyd family is] a good family, and they’re calling for peace and tranquillity, no matter what that verdict is,” said Biden. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict.”
Last week the defense was given their opportunity to present their case to the jury. The main argument from the defense was that Floyd’s death was caused mostly or entirely by complications from drugs in Floyd’s system.
In criminal court the defense must show reasonable doubt to be acquitted, as the prosecution must show that the defense is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Following the previous week of prosecution witnesses, the defense was allowed to bring their own witness to testify.
One of the witnesses, Dr. David Fowler, was a former chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland. Fowler testified that Floyd died from complications from his heart condition and fentanyl and methamphetamine being in Floyd’s system.
"In my opinion, Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia...due to his atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease...during his restraint and subdual by the police,” said Fowler.
Fowler also said that carbon-monoxide coming from the police car may have been a contributing factor in Floyd’s death.
Another witness was Barry Brodd, a police use-of-force expert. Brodd testified that Chauvin’s use of the restraint against Floyd was justified and that it should not be considered a deadly force.
"It's easy to sit and judge, in an office, on an officer's conduct. It's more of a challenge to, again, put yourself in an officer's shoes,” said Brodd.
In concluding their argument, the defense elected to not have Chauvin testify on the stand. Chauvin himself confirmed to the judge he would not testify.
"I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today," Chauvin said.
The fifth amendment to the United States Constitution allows for citizens to not be forced to testify to a court unless under certain circumstances.
With Chauvin electing not to testify, the trial would be allowed to move to closing arguments for both the prosecution and defense.
On Monday April 19, both the prosecution and the defense gave their closing arguments. After the statements by the prosecution and the defense, the defense argued a motion for a mistrial.
The motion was denied but Judge Peter Cahill expressed his frustration with comments on the then in-progress trial by politicians like California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
“I'll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” said Cahill.
Waters had made comments on what would happen if Chauvin was acquitted on Saturday night to reporters.
“We've got to stay on the street, and we've got to get more active. We've got to get more confrontational,” said Waters. "We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Despite the Judge showing potential for appeal, an overturning of the verdict is unlikely because Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges.The guilty verdict of Chauvin comes nearly 11 months after Floyd died in police custody, sparking nationwide protests last summer.