Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, has been found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest on May 25, 2020.
The verdict comes on just the second day of jury deliberations.
The jury of six white people and six people who are Black or multi-racial began deliberating on Monday shortly after the prosecutorial and defence teams finished delivering their closing arguments.
Chauvin, 45, pleaded not-guilty to all charges.
He sat in the Hennepin County Courthouse dressed in a grey suit as the verdict was read.
Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, said sentencing will take place in eight weeks.
Chauvin’s bail has been revoked, his bond discharged and he has been remanded into custody by the county sheriff’s office.
He is now facing up to 40 years in prison.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man died after he was arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in Minneapolis.
Video captured by bystanders during the arrest showed Chauvin, one of four Minneapolis police officers, kneel on Floyd’s neck and back for more nine minutes and 29 seconds.
In the video, Floyd can be heard gasping for air and pleading for his life.
The video sparked international outrage, and was the catalyst for protests against police brutality and racial injustice across America and around the world.
In Minneapolis, calls to disband and defund the police mounted.
During the three-weeks-long trial, the jurors heard from bystanders who witnessed the arrest, doctors at the hospital where Floyd was taken and members of the Minneapolis police force.
Ultimately, the 12 jury members were tasked with deciding whether Chauvin’s actions were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death and whether his use of force was unreasonable.
During closing arguments on Monday, Chauvin’s lawyer argued that there was reasonable doubt related to whether the former police officer’s actions were in accordance with the force’s policies, and whether Chauvin’s actions had, in fact, caused Floyd’s death.
Defence also argued Floyd had a heart condition and pointed to illegal drugs found in his bloodstream, saying those ultimately led to his death.
Minnesota prosecutors argued that it was Chauvin’s actions which caused Floyd’s death, and that the officer had used excessive force.
After the verdict was read, President Joe Biden called Floyd’s family. The family’s attorney, Ben Crump, posted video of the call on Twitter.
Biden can be heard telling the family they are “incredible,” and that “the change starts now.”
The president said he watched the verdict being read with Vice President Kamala Harris, adding that they are “all so relieved.”
Crump said “history was made,” on Tuesday.
“We are finally starting to, as a country, live up to the promise of equal justice under the law for all people.”
He said they do not “take this moment lightly.”
“It was sacrificial blood that made this moment possible for history and America.”
Speaking outside the courtroom to reporters, Crump called on the country to “lean into this moment.”
“America, let this be the precedent,” he said.
Floyd’s brother, Philonis, said “today we are able to breathe,” as he recalled the trauma of rewatching Floyd’s death on videos shown to the entire world.
“It was a motion picture, the world seeing his life extinguished,” he said in tears. “It’s been a long journey and it’s been less than a year.”
He thanked activists and advocates who he said helped make the verdict possible.
“We have to march, we will have to do this for life. We have to protest because it seems that this is a never ending cycle,” he said.
“I’m fighting for everyone around the world.”
Floyd’s younger brother, Rodney, told reporters “this fight is not over,” but said “it is a good day to be a Floyd.”
He said he was going to continue working to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to combat misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing, signed into law.
At a press conference later on Tuesday, Biden, too said the verdict is a “step forward,” but added that there is still work to be done in order to address racial injustice in America.
“We can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood of tragedies like this will ever happen or occur again,” he said.
Harris, the first Black woman to serve as vice president, said racism was keeping the country from fulfilling its founding promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
“It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American,” she said. “It is holding our nation back from reaching our full potential.”
“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” she continued.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said “George Floyd mattered.”
“He was loved by his family and his friends, his death shocked the conscience of our community our country, the whole world.”
“He was loved by his family and friends, but that isn’t why he mattered,” he continued. “He mattered because he was a human being and there is no way we could turn away from that reality.”
Ellison said the verdict is not “justice.”
“Because justice implies true restoration,” he said. “But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice.”
In a tweet Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “accountability for the murder of George Floyd.”
“But make no mistake, systemic racism and anti-Black racism still exist,” he wrote. “And they exist in Canada, too. Our work must and will continue.”
In the US today, we saw accountability for the murder of George Floyd. But make no mistake, systemic racism and anti-Black racism still exist. And they exist in Canada, too. Our work must and will continue.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 21, 2021
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz echoed Ellison’s remarks, calling the verdict an “important step forward for justice in Minnesota.”
“The trial is over, but our work has only begun,” he said.
“True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again,” he continued. “Too many Black people have lost – and continue to lose – their lives at the hands of law enforcement in our state.”
In a tweet, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said: “While justice landed Derek Chauvin behind bars for murdering George Floyd, no amount of justice will bring Gianna’s father back.”
“We will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe,” the tweet read.
Former U.S. president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama issued a statement, saying the jury “did the right thing.”
They said while the verdict is a “necessary step on the road to progress,” it is “far from a sufficient one.”
“We cannot rest,” they said. “we will need to follow through with the concrete-reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system.”
They said the country needs to “redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said true justice for Floyd “means renewing our conviction to create a world where police do not have the opportunity to use violence to target Black people.”
— With files from The Associated Press