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Ex-cop Derek Chauvin convicted of all charges in George Floyd's death

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The Chauvin Verdict
The Chauvin Verdict 46:28

Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday on all counts in the death of George Floyd, whose killing sparked worldwide protests and a reckoning on race in the U.S. After about a day of deliberations, the jury found Chauvin guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict at the heavily secured Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, where the trial began last month. A cheer could be heard from the crowd of peaceful protesters that had gathered outside.   

Watch: Guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin trial 04:11

Chauvin showed little reaction after the verdict was announced. Judge Cahill announced his bail had been revoked and Chauvin was led away in handcuffs. 

Cahill said sentencing will take place in about eight weeks.  

The jury — made up of six White people, four Black people and two multiracial people — heard 13 days of sometimes emotional testimony.  The jury was sequestered during deliberations, but was not sequestered during the earlier portion of the trial.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Steve Schleicher urged jurors to focus on the video showing Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

"Believe your eyes," Schleicher said. "Unreasonable force, pinning him to the ground — that's what killed him. This was a homicide." 

Schleicher said Chauvin showed "indifference" to Floyd's pleas for help and continued restraining the man even after he was unresponsive, ignoring the bystanders who were urging him to ease up.

"This case is exactly what you thought when you first saw it — when you first saw the video," he said. "It's exactly that. It's exactly what you saw with your eyes. It's exactly what you knew. It's exactly what you felt in your gut. It's what you now know in your heart. This wasn't policing, this was murder."

In his closing argument, defense attorney Eric Nelson said the state has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt and has not been able to definitely show how Floyd died.

He said that while the state called a series of experts to testify positional asphyxia was the cause of Floyd's death, it "flies in the face of reason and common sense" to suggest that Floyd's drug use and heart disease did not play a role, Nelson said. 

Nelson has argued a combination of Floyd's underlying heart disease, adrenaline and the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had ingested prior to the arrest amounted to a fatal combination. He called the case "tragic," but said it was an example of  "officers doing their job in a highly stressful situation." 

In Minnesota, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

But sentencing guidelines recommend less time for offenders with no criminal history. 

In that case, the suggested sentencing range for unintentional second-degree murder and third degree murder is the same — from just over 10 and a half years to 15 years in prison. The recommended median sentence is 12 and a half years — the same sentence handed down in 2019 to Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer convicted of third-degree murder for firing a shot from inside his squad car and killing a woman who had called 911. 

Someone convicted of second-degree manslaughter with no criminal history would likely spend about four years in prison.

In the Chauvin case, prosecutors have introduced a series of "aggravating factors" that could add additional time to Chauvin's sentence. They include committing a crime in front of a child — the youngest bystander who witnessed Floyd's fatal arrest was 9 years old — and using police authority to commit a crime.  

The other three officers involved are charged with aiding and abetting, and are expected to be tried jointly in August.        

 

Guilty verdict spared George Floyd's family more injustice, Harvard law professor says

Analyzing Derek Chauvin's conviction 05:08
 

U.S. attorney general says civil rights investigation into George Floyd's death is ongoing

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday in a statement that the Justice Department's civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd remains "ongoing."

"While the state's prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death," Garland also said in the statement.

By Jordan Freiman
 

Biden says verdict can be "a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America"

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris commended the jury's decision in remarks Tuesday night, saying it can be "a giant step forward toward justice in America." 

"Today's verdict is a step forward," Mr. Biden said. "Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back — but this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America."

Mr. Biden also spoke to the feeling that Chauvin's guilty verdict is "much too rare," and that it is the result of a "unique and extraordinary convergence of factors." 

Biden speaks about Chauvin's conviction 10:24

"We can't stop here [...] we can and we must work to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever occur again," Mr. Biden said. 

Mr. Biden also urged Americans to remember George Floyd's final moments, and said, "We must not turn away, we can't turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country."  

In a similar statement, Kamala Harris said that "We are all a part of George Floyd's legacy, and our job now is to honor it and to honor him." 

"A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice," Harris said. "This verdict brings us a step closer and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system."

By Victoria Albert
 

Floyd's brother: "Today, we're able to breathe again"

In an emotional press conference with family members, George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd said, "I feel relieved that today, I finally have the opportunity for hopefully getting some sleep."

He said it was difficult to repeatedly watch his brother's death on video during the trial.

"The world saw his life being extinguished, and I could do nothing but watch, especially in that courtroom, over and over again, as my brother was murdered," he said.

Floyd said he's received messages from people across the world from people who tell him: "We won't be able to breathe until you're able to breathe."

"Today, we're able to breathe again," he said.

George Floyd's brother on Chauvin conviction 04:01

Floyd's brother Terrence Floyd called the verdict "monumental" and said he's grateful and proud of his brother George.

"I will salute him every day of my life, because he showed me how to be strong, he showed me how to be respectful, he showed me how to speak my mind," Terrence Floyd said. "I'm going to miss him, but now I know he's in history. What a day to be a Floyd, man."

By Erin Donaghue
 

Prosecutor: "This is for you, George Floyd"

Prosecutor Matthew Frank said it's been a "privilege" to get to know the Floyd family.

"This is for you, George Floyd," Frank said. "And for your family and friends."

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher thanked the jury for finding the "right verdict."  And prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said he hopes the verdict can "help all of us further along the road toward a better humanity."

"No verdict can bring George Floyd back to us," Blackwell said. "But this verdict does give the message to his family -- that he was somebody, that his life mattered."

By Erin Donaghue
 

President Biden speaks to George Floyd's family

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris watched the verdict with their staff in the White House's private dining room. After the verdict was read, Mr. Biden, Harris and First Lady Jill Biden spoke with Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, from the Oval Office, according to the White House. Attorney Ben Crump posted video of the call on Twitter.

Mr. Biden said "nothing is going to make it better, but at least now there's some justice." The president said he often thinks about the comment made by Floyd's young daughter Gianna, that her father would change the world.

"He's gonna start to change it now," Mr. Biden said, adding he's "watched every second" of the trial and was relieved after hearing the verdict.

Harris also spoke to the family.

"This is a day of justice in America, and your family have been real leaders of this moment when we needed you," she said.

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Biden said he was "praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is — I think it's overwhelming, in my view."   

By Kathryn Watson
 

Minnesota AG: Verdict is accountability, but not justice

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office led the prosecution against Chauvin, said he would not call the verdict "justice," because the word indicates full restoration. Instead, he called it accountability, a step towards justice. 

He said Floyd "sparked a worldwide movement," and he praised the man's family, who he said was forced to re-live the death of their loved one over and over again during the trial.

"They have shown the world what grace and class and courage really look like," Ellison said. "A verdict cannot end their pain, but I hope it's another step on the long journey towards healing for them."

Minnesota attorney general on Chauvin verdict... 13:00

Ellison also praised the bystanders who stopped and tried to intervene in Floyd's killing, whom he called a "bouquet of humanity" — old and young, men and women, Black and White.

"They stopped and raised their voices and challenged authority because they saw [Floyd's] humanity….because they knew what they were seeing was wrong," Ellison said.

He also praised Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and other members of the department who took the stand and "said enough is enough" by condemning Chauvin's actions.  

By Erin Donaghue
 

Attorneys for Floyd's family call the verdict "painfully earned justice"

The legal team representing George Floyd's family released a statement supporting the jury's verdict, calling the decision "painfully earned justice." 

"Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd's family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today's verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world," said attorney Benjamin Crump. "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." 

By Erin Donaghue
 

Chauvin guilty on all counts

Ex-cop Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. A cheer went up from the crowd gathered outside the courthouse after the verdict was read.

Watch: Guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin trial 04:11
By Erin Donaghue
 

Crowds gather ahead of verdict

crowd-minnesota.jpg
A crowd gathers outside the Hennepin County Government Center before the verdict is read in the trial of Derek Chauvin, April 20, 2021. CBS News

Several hundred peaceful protesters have gathered outside the heavily secured Hennepin County Government Center, where the verdict is expected to be read shortly, reports CBS station WCCO. A crowd has also gathered at 38th and Chicago, the intersection where George Floyd died. 

By Erin Donaghue
 

Sentencing guidelines

In Minnesota, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

But sentencing guidelines recommend less time for offenders with no criminal history. 

In that case, the suggested sentencing range for unintentional second-degree murder and third degree murder is the same — from just over 10 and a half years to 15 years in prison. The recommended median sentence is 12 and a half years — the same sentence handed down in 2019 to Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer convicted of third-degree murder for firing a shot from inside his squad car and killing a woman who had called 911. 

Someone convicted of second-degree manslaughter with no criminal history would likely spend about four years in prison.

In the Chauvin case, prosecutors have introduced a series of "aggravating factors" that could add additional time to Chauvin's sentence. They include committing a crime in front of a child — the youngest bystander who witnessed Floyd's fatal arrest was 9 years old — and using police authority to commit a crime.

Chauvin waived his right to have a jury decide whether the aggravating factors apply, so Judge Peter Cahill will determine whether to consider them at sentencing if Chauvin is convicted. 

By Erin Donaghue
 

"Reasonable police officer" legal standard

Jurors were instructed that no crime is committed if Chauvin's actions amounted to reasonable force in the line of police duty. To get a conviction, prosecutors must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin's force was not authorized by law. In order for the force to be lawful, officers may only use the amount of force as a reasonable police officer would use under the same circumstances. 

Jurors were told to weigh what a reasonable police officer would have known at the exact moment the force was used, and whether the actions were reasonable given the totality of the circumstances. 

The defense has repeatedly pointed to the "reasonable police officer" standard, arguing that Chauvin followed his training and that the force he used was justified to overcome Floyd's resistance. But prosecutors introduced a series of high-ranking Minneapolis police officers, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, who said Chauvin's actions violated department policy, training and values.

By Erin Donaghue
 

The charges

In order to convict Chauvin of second-degree murder, prosecutors must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin caused Floyd's death while committing or attempting to commit a related felony, in this case third-degree assault. To convict the former officer of third-degree murder, the jury must be convinced that Chauvin caused Floyd's death during an act that was "eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life." 

The third-degree charge was initially dropped by Judge Cahill, but was re-instated earlier this month after an appeals court handed a win to prosecutors.

To convict Chauvin of second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin caused Floyd's death by "culpable negligence," meaning he created unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or serious harm.

Prosecutors do not need to prove that Chauvin intended to cause Floyd's death. 

By Erin Donaghue
 

Cause of death a key factor

The jury received detailed instructions on how to weigh the charges Chauvin is facing: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Each charge is broken down into several elements, each of which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for jurors to convict Chauvin of the charge. 

The 12 members of the jury — five men and seven women; six White, four Black, and two multiracial; ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s — must decide each of the three charges separately, and their verdicts must be unanimous.

Each charge requires jurors to find that Floyd's death was caused by Chauvin, meaning Chauvin's actions were a "substantial causal factor" in causing Floyd to die. How Floyd died has been a key point of dispute at trial, with the defense suggesting Floyd's heart disease and drug use led to a fatal heart arrhythmia, and the prosecution arguing that the police restraining him restricted Floyd's oxygen intake and caused his heart to stop. 

The jury instructions leave open the possibility for jurors to conclude that Chauvin's actions were a "substantial causal factor" in the death even if other factors contributed.

"The Defendant is criminally liable for all the consequences of his actions that occur in the ordinary and natural course of events, including those consequences brought about by one or more intervening causes, if such intervening causes were the natural result of the Defendant's acts," the jury instructions read.

The instructions, however, say Chauvin would not be criminally liable if Floyd died because of a "superseding cause," defined as "a cause that comes after the Defendant's acts, alters the natural sequence of events, and is the sole cause of result that would not otherwise have occurred."

By Erin Donaghue
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