Justice for George Floyd: Derek Chauvin Guilty on Three Charges of Murder

by Lily Bertles ‘22

After three weeks of trial, Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, has been found guilty for the murder George Floyd. Back on May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man and father, was pronounced dead after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. Months later, Chauvin was tried for manslaughter as well as second and third degree murder to which he pleaded not-guilty. On April 20, 2021, the jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges. Chauvin could be sentenced to up to forty years in prison, effectively spending the remainder of his life behind bars. 

 

The prosecution argued that Floyd died due to a lack of oxygen after being restrained by Chauvin. They used expert witnesses from law enforcement and medicine to prove this point. The defense tried to argue that Floyd died because of something unrelated to Chauvin. They stated that Chauvin was following training protocols and claimed that Floyd likely died from his heart condition or drug-use. 

 

Individuals who witnessed Floyd’s arrest testified and shared how the event has since affected their lives. Many witnesses expressed feelings of guilt and helplessness. Darnela Frazier, probably the most well known witness, described Floyd as "a man terrified, scared, begging for his life." Frazier was only 17 years old when she bravely recorded the infamous video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. She set the scene of the instance stating that many bystanders were watching from the sidewalk and all seemed to agree that what was happening was wrong. Many yelled at the police to stop hurting Floyd. 

 

This was a landmark trial that attracted millions of viewers who streamed it live, watching to see if justice would be served. George Floyd’s death last year sparked a wave of protests against racism and police brutality. The Black Lives Matter Movement resurfaced in the mainstream media as people demanded justice for Floyd and the many other African Americans who were killed by police officers. Recently, on April 11, 2021, 20-year-old African American man, Daunte Wright was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, the home of Chauvin’s trial. These two events taking place in the same city at the same time is more than just a coincidence; it shows how prevalent police brutality is. Many see the verdict of Chauvin’s case as one step in the right direction towards racial justice and an end to police brutality. 

 

President, Joe Biden stated after the verdict, “Let’s also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare.  For so many people, it seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors: a brave young woman with a smartphone camera; a crowd that was traumatized — traumatized witnesses; a murder that lasts almost 10 minutes in broad daylight for, ultimately, the whole world to see; officers standing up and testifying against a fellow officer instead of just closing ranks, which should be commended; a jury who heard the evidence, carried out their civic duty in the midst of an extraordinary moment, under extraordinary pressure.”