Former police officer found guilty over murder of George Floyd

·Lifestyle Editor

Former Officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd, the Black man who was pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck.

The jury reached the verdict on Tuesday (local time) after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days.

Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges – second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin is expected to be sentenced in two months.

Floyd's brother Philonise was sitting in the courtroom when the verdict was read, and was relieved as Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges.

"Today, we are able to breathe again," he said.

Floyd died last May after a knee was pinned close to his neck for about 9.5 minutes in the US city of Minneapolis.

Mugshot of Derek Chauvin (left) and the officer with his knee on George Floyd's neck (right).
Former police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty in the murder of George Floyd. Source: AP

He gasped that he couldn't breathe as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off.

Floyd's death sparked a wave of global Black Lives Matter protests and after the jury's verdict was read, anxious crowds outside the courtroom began chanting "George Floyd".

'This verdict is not justice'

In a powerful response to the verdict, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked Floyd for "sacrificing" his life.

"Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice ... because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous for justice," she told reporters.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram following the verdict it "was not justice".

"This is not justice – justice is George Floyd going home tonight. Justice is Adam Toledo getting tucked in by his mum tonight," she said.

"This verdict is not justice, frankly, I don't think we call it full accountability because there are multiple officers that were there, wasn't just Chauvin, and I also don't want this moment to be framed as 'this system is working' because it's not working.

"That's what creates a lot of complexity in this moment, the fact that we were all glued to our TV sets because we knew – we saw a murder in front of our eyes and yet we didn't know if there would be a guilty verdict – it tells you everything."

The lawyer for Floyd's family, Ben Crump, said in a statement the verdict was "painfully earned justice".

"Today's verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country, and even the world," he said.

"Justice for Black America is justice for all of America. This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement, and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state."

Verdict 'far from sufficient': Obama

Former US president Barack Obama said in a statement true justice was more than a single verdict in a single trial.

"True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day. It requires us to recognise that millions of our friends, family and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last," he said.

"And it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the America we know more like the America we believe in."

While Obama said the verdict was a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one.

President 'prayed for right verdict'

President Joe Biden said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict” ahead of it being handed down.

He said he believed the case, which had gone to the jury and put the nation on edge, was “overwhelming”.

Biden told reporters he called Floyd’s family on Monday (local time) to offer prayers and could “only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling”.

US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House.
US President Joe Biden said he was praying for the right verdict. Source: Getty

“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said a few hours before the verdict was to be announced.

“I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view.”

Other politicians and ordinary citizens also offered their opinion before the jury was handed down.

US Representative Ilhan Omar said guilty verdicts could mark a turning point in the fight for racial equality.

US city on edge ahead of verdict

Minneapolis has been on edge in recent days — not just over the Chauvin case but over the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in the nearby Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Centre on April 11.

For days, a heavy presence of militarised police and members of the national guard had patrolled the city as tensions ran high and fears swelled that protests could spill over into further violent clashes following the verdict.

Fortifications including barbed wire have been erected around police stations in the city.

"This is not a Minneapolis people are familiar with, it certainly feels like a city that is being locked down slowly, day-by-day," CNN reporter Josh Campbell said on Saturday (local time).

"People are just on edge here, waiting for that verdict."

with Associated Press

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