On May 25, 2020 George Floyd was confronted by Minnesota police for allegedly attempting to pay for purchases with a counterfeit bill. Floyd, who was later found to have had traces of fentanyl in his system, died under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin is alleged to have had previous complaints of violence and misconduct against him.
Floyd was handcuffed and face down while under restraint by several officers, including Chauvin who knelt on Floyd’s neck for a reported nine minutes, twenty-nine seconds. The entire encounter had been captured on video.
Tuesday, April 20, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all charges previously brought against him: second degree unintentional, second degree manslaughter, and third degree.
During the prosecutor’s closing argument, he implored the jurors to not forget that Chauvin had kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than mine minutes.
“Believe your eyes,” prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher said. “Unreasonable force, pinning him to the ground – that’s what killed him. This was a homicide. This is exactly what you thought when you first saw it – when you first saw the video. It’s exactly that. It’s exactly what you saw with your eyes. It’s exactly what you knew. It’s exactly what you felt in your gut. It’s what you now know in your heart. This wasn’t policing, it was murder.”
He also argued that Chauvin had knelt on Floyd’s neck for as long as he did was because of pride and ego.
“He was not going to let these bystanders tell him what to do,” he said. “He was going to do what he wanted, how he wanted for as long as he wanted. And there was nothing they could do about it because he had the authority. He had the power, and the other officers, the bystanders were powerless. He was trying to win, and George Floyd paid for it with his life.”
“This is not an anti-police prosecution,” he continued. “There is nothing worse for good police than bad police.”
In response to the verdict. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd said, “I was praying they would find him guilty. As an African American, we usually never get justice.”
Chauvin could receive up to forty years in federal prison for second-degree murder, twenty-five for third-degree, and ten for manslaughter.
“We frame this moment for all of us, not just George Floyd,” Benjamin Crump said. “This is a victory for those who champion justice over injustice, those who champion morality over immorality.”
Chauvin’s sentencing is scheduled to take place in eight weeks.