A Minnesota jury convicted Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged, of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after kneeling on the neck of a dying George Floyd during an arrest last May.
The verdict was read aloud in court just after 5 p.m. Eastern time. The jury deliberated for four hours on Monday and resumed on Tuesday morning.
The 12 sequestered jurors have considered three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses, including bystanders, police officials and medical experts, along with hours of video evidence in the most high-profile U.S. case involving accusations of police misconduct in decades.
Chauvin, who is white, had pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree “depraved mind” murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Jurors must reach a unanimous verdict on each charge to convict or acquit. A single hold-out would result in a mistrial, although the state could then try Chauvin again.
All three charges required that jurors find that Chauvin‘s acts were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death, but none required that they find he intended to kill Floyd.
In an arrest captured on video, Chauvin pushed his knee into the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man, for more than nine minutes outside the grocery store where Floyd had been accused of buying cigarettes with a fake $20 bill.
Floyd’s relatives, many of them traveling from Texas, have taken turns sitting in a single chair reserved for them in the courtroom.
President Joe Biden spoke with Floyd’s family on Monday “to check in with them and also share that the family was in his prayers,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
With the jurors now sequestered, Biden told reporters at the White House that he was praying for the “right verdict” in the most high-profile U.S. case involving accusations of police misconduct in decades.
Angela Harrelson, an aunt of Floyd, wrote in a text message that the family was “waiting nervously” for the verdict.
The case hinges on whether the jury believes the prosecution argument that Chauvin used excessive, and therefore illegal, force that killed Floyd. The defense has countered that Chauvin behaved as any “reasonable police officer” would, and sought to raise doubts about the cause of Floyd’s death, saying heart disease or even the exhaust fumes from the nearby police car may have been factors.
The jury is comprised of four white women, two white men, three Black men, one Black woman and two multiracial women, according to court records. The court has promised to shield their identities until some time after they give their verdict. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill presided over the trial.
The courthouse is surrounded by high barricades and guarded by National Guard troops. Many downtown businesses have boarded up their windows for fear of a repeat of the violent street clashes that unfolded last year between police in riot gear and protesters, some of whom set fire to a police precinct house and damaged nearby property.