A jury reached its decision Tuesday in the case of the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin, finding Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after roughly 10 hours of deliberation.
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was accused of killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
During Floyd’s arrest, Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes, until Floyd became unconscious. Floyd died later that same day.
In the weeks that followed, riots and looting sprees ravaged major cities across the country, with Minneapolis — where the incident occurred — being especially hard hit. The presumption behind the riots — and the various Black Lives Matter protests that often preceded them — was that Floyd, a black man, was yet another victim of supposed “systemic racism” in American policing.
If Chauvin had not been convicted, those riots were expected to resume in unprecedented fashion.
Widespread violence may still occur, given that a sitting congresswoman — Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California — said “as far as I’m concerned, it’s first-degree murder” during controversial remarks delivered Saturday.
Waters also added that, if the Chauvin trial doesn’t go the way anti-police activists want, protesters should get “more confrontational.”
In the days prior to Waters’ comments, riots took place in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a city on the northwest border of Minneapolis. More than 20 stores were looted in the following days and, amid the chaos, a nearby police precinct was fired upon.
Regardless, the second-degree murder conviction of Chauvin, which could carry a maximum sentence of 40 years behind bars, comes as a surprise to many who have been closely following the trial.
After the prosecution and defense both presented their cases, some believed that when it came to the charges levied against Chauvin, reasonable doubt had been established.
To make its case, the prosecution brought forward various emotional witness testimonies, expert medical opinions and various colleagues of Chauvin who believed his restraint of Floyd had been excessive.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Inspector Katie Blackwell, who was the head of the training department at the time Floyd was killed, both claimed Chauvin’s neck restraint violated police procedure.
When it came to medical experts, both forensic pathologist Lindsay Thomas and pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin claimed Chauvin’s actions were directly responsible for Floyd’s death.
Tobin even went so far as to say that even a “healthy person subject to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result.”
In turn, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, presented his own fair share of experts and witnesses, albeit not nearly as many as the prosecution.
Testifying for the defense, Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert, claimed that Chauvin “was justified” and “was acting with objective reasonableness” when it came to his restraint of Floyd.
Also, Dr. David Fowler, a forensic pathologist, said Floyd did not die because of Chauvin’s actions, but rather because of a cardiac arrhythmia due to his various pre-existing conditions — he had narrowed coronary arteries, known as atherosclerosis, an enlarged heart, hypertension and a tumor known as a paraganglioma, according to WDJT-TV.
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