MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — A jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd Tuesday.
The jury reached its verdict after deliberating about 10 hours over two days in a city on edge against another outbreak of unrest.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The second-degree murder count, the most serious charge, carries up to 40 years in prison.
Chauvin’s face was obscured by a COVID-19 mask, and little reaction could be seen beyond his eyes darting around the courtroom. His bail was immediately revoked. Sentencing will be in two months; the most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Floyd family members gathered at a Minneapolis conference room could be heard cheering from the next room as each verdict was read.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was declared dead after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes on May 25. Floyd was arrested on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store. His death sparked protests and civil unrest in Minneapolis and across the U.S. over police brutality, at points turning violent.
The verdict comes after the racially diverse jury listened to three weeks of evidence filled with countless surveillance videos, emotional testimony and medical experts.
Prosecutors argued that Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd even though he was not resisting, using excessive force in violation of police training, and even when one of the onlookers identified herself as a firefighter and pleaded repeatedly to check Floyd’s pulse, according to witnesses and video.
The defense argued that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s death was not caused by the officer’s knee, as prosecutors contend, but by Floyd’s illegal drug use, heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenaline flowing through his body.
The prosecution called 11 days worth of witness to the stand whereas the defense only used two days of testimony before resting its case.
The jury was sequestered at a hotel in a city whose downtown is filled with National Guard troops and boarded-up windows, preparing for potential unrest.
City, county and state officials are preparing for any sort of reaction that the verdict might elicit. Barbed and razor wire and concrete barriers surround the courthouse, and strict security was in place to protect trial proceedings. City and state leaders want to avoid a repeat of last year’s protests and rioting that destroyed dozens of businesses and a police station.
It is unusual for police officers to be prosecuted for killing someone on the job. And convictions are extraordinarily rare.
Out of the thousands of deadly police shootings in the U.S. since 2005, fewer than 140 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter, according to data maintained by Phil Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University. Before Tuesday, only seven were convicted of murder.
Juries often give police officers the benefit of the doubt when they claim they had to make split-second, life-or-death decisions. But that was not an argument Chauvin could easily make.
Eighteen-year-old Darnella Frazier, who shot the crucial video, said Chauvin gave the bystanders a “cold” and “heartless” stare. She and others said they felt a sense of helplessness and lingering guilt from witnessing Floyd’s slow-motion death.
“It’s been nights I stayed up, apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” she testified.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.