By: Daria Draskovic
On Tuesday, April 20, Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer arrested for George Floyd’s death, was found guilty of all charges, which included second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In May of 2020, 46 year-old George Floyd was arrested by Chauvin for allegedly trying to use a fake 20 dollar bill in a store. Following this, bystanders recorded Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost 10 minutes as he begged for his life. This caused international outrage at police brutality against black people, and numerous protests were organized to defund and reform the police.
The trial, which lasted 3 weeks, had the jurors hearing from a number of witnesses. These included bystanders at the scene, doctors at the hospital Floyd was taken to, and other Minneapolis police officers. Of the witnesses, four were underage, including a then 17 year old girl named Darnella, who filmed the incident. After 10 hours of deliberation over 2 days, a jury of 12 decided on Chauvin’s guilt.
This verdict has not only changed the lives of those directly involved, but has had lasting impacts on communities all over the world. Many now feel relieved at the fact that justice has finally been served, and that this could lead to much greater, and much needed, police reform. Janay Henry, a woman living nearby, said that “I feel grounded. I can feel my feet on the concrete,”. Many, including Henry, look forward with optimism towards the future and trials to come.
United States President Joe Biden released a statement on the verdict, saying Floyd’s death was “a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world” to see the racial injustice and police brutality existing in communities all around the USA. However, he added that, “It’s not enough. We can’t stop here. We’re going to deliver real change and reform. We can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen again.” This declaration of solidarity is a welcome step towards future police reform.
This verdict was also supported and welcomed by many other influential figures, such as former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. An especially powerful statement was made by white California governor David Newsom, who said that George Floyd “would still be alive if he looked like me.”
While this decision is finally justice for Floyd’s family, Chauvin’s guilt is still an exception to the rule. The fact of the matter is that unfortunately, few police officers are ever held accountable for their actions while on duty. According to the New York Times, law enforcement officers kill about 1,000 people a year in the USA. However, only 121 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter for killings while on duty since 2005. This is indicative of a great problem in the whole system of policing, and a clear sign that reform is necessary.
After sentencing in 2 months, Derek Chauvin could face 40 years in jail. His trial and verdict has shaken the nation and had a profound impact on many throughout the world. Hopefully, this case will help decrease prejudiced police brutality and further racial equality in policing.
Image Source: globalnews.ca
Dewan, Shaila. “Few Police Officers Who Cause Deaths Are Charged or Convicted.” The New York Times, 12 Apr. 2021, http://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/24/us/police-killings-prosecution-charges.html. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.
Forliti, Amy, et al. “Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin found guilty on all charges in George Floyd’s death.” CP24, 20 Apr. 2021, https://www.cp24.com/world/former-minneapolis-cop-derek-chauvin-found-guilty-on-all-charges-in-george-floyd-s-death-1.5394285. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.
“George Floyd: Teenage witness ‘stays up apologising for not doing more’.” BBC News, 31 Mar. 2021, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56585165. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.
Jackson, Hannah, and Emerald Bensadoun. “Ex-cop Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder, manslaughter in death of George Floyd.” Global News, 21 Apr. 2021, globalnews.ca/news/7774576/derek-chauvin-trial-george-floyd-verdict/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.