Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
He faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to a decade for second-degree manslaughter – up to 75 years in all.
Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks, and his bail has been revoked. The ex-cop was led away from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Floyd, 46, died in May 2020 when police tried to arrest him on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store. Floyd died as Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the Black man was pinned to the pavement and handcuffed after struggling with officers in the back seat of a squad car.
Floyd repeatedly cried that he couldn’t breathe as concerned onlookers shouted for Chauvin to stop and took cellphone video that would help spark a wave of widespread protests and unrest last summer.
Prosecutors argued that Floyd was not a threat to anyone and that Chauvin did not follow his training by using such force on Floyd. The officer “had to know” that kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds would kill him, prosecutor Steve Schleicher said during closing arguments Monday.
“He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. He wasn’t trying to do anything to anyone," Schleicher said of Floyd. "Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage. And none was shown on that day. No courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”
The prosecution’s parade of witnesses included eyewitnesses as well as current and former police officers. Minneapolis’ police chief and a former supervisory sergeant both testified the Chauvin could have ended his restraint of his Floyd after the suspect stopped resisting.
The defense tried to convince jurors that Floyd’s illicit drug use and existing heart disease were the causes of his death, not Chauvin’s knee upon his neck. Chauvin’s lawyer attorney Eric Nelson also argued that his client used a reasonable amount of force to restrain Floyd.
“The futility of their efforts became apparent — they weren’t able to get him into the car,” Nelson said during his closing arguments. “Three Minneapolis police officers were unable to get Mr. Floyd into the car.”
In a statement, Floyd's legal team, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his co-council, called the verdict "painfully earned justice for the Floyd family and community."
"This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement," Crump wrote on Twitter. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"
In an address to the nation Tuesday night following the announcement of the verdict, Vice President Kamala Harris called for a reform to the criminal justice system.
"Today we feel a sigh of relief," Harris said of the verdict. "Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice."
"This verdict brings us a step closer," she added. "And, the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system."
"America has a long history of systemic racism," Harris said. "Black Americans, and Black men in particular, have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human."
Following Harris' remarks, President Joe Biden said that Chauvin's conviction "can be a giant step forward" in fighting systemic racism.
"No one should be above the law, and today's verdict extends that message," Biden said. "But it is not enough. We can't stop here."
"The guilty verdict does not bring back George, but through the family's pain they're finding purpose so George's legacy will not be just about his death but about what we must do in his memory," the president said.
Biden called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing act, and assured Floyd's family that they would continue to fight to get the bill passed.
They watched the verdict with staff in the White House's Private Dining Room, and following the verdict, they spoke with the Floyd family alongside First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
Attorney Crump shared a video of the call between the Floyd family and the White House.
"We're all so relieved," Biden said of the verdict, but pledged there is more to be done, including getting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed and on his desk to be signed.
"Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there’s some justice," Biden said.
"This is a day of justice in America," Harris said. "History will look back at this moment and say it is an inflection moment."
"This guilty verdict serves as an official proclamation of what so many of us have known for nearly a year: George Floyd was murdered by an officer who was sworn to protect and serve,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement. "However, we should not mistake a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved or that the divide between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged."
"We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring meaningful change to police departments across the country," he added. "The Senate will continue that work as we strive to ensure George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the verdict "a step in the right direction for justice" at a press conference with members of Democratic House leadership and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Pelosi drew some backlash for saying "thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice" at the press conference.
She later clarified her comments in a Twitter post: "George Floyd should be alive today. His family’s calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain. We must make sure other families don't suffer the same racism, violence & pain, and we must enact the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act."
“This is just the first step,” CBC chair Joyce Beatty (D-OH) said. “We know that there are still the mothers, the families, the children who are shedding tears today because a verdict will not bring back their family members.”
“We are hopeful today will be the catalyst to turn the pain, agony, the justice delayed into action,” Beatty added.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate, said in a statement that "there is no question in my mind that the jury reached the right verdict."
"This verdict demands us to never give up the hope that we can make enduring change,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said. “Generations of people said slavery would never end. Generations said Jim Crow would never end. Generations said women would never be equal to men. Generations said if you are different in any way, you could never be a full and equal member of our society."
"Today, we have to end this travesty of recurring, enduring deaths at the hands of law enforcement," he added.
“Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota. The trial is over, but our work has only begun," Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, said in a statement.
"Today, a jury did the right thing," former President Barack Obama wrote on Twitter. "But true justice requires much more. Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, and we stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied."
“True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again,” he added.
Dozens of people gathered outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis to hear the verdict. When it was read, the crowd erupted in a mix of cheers and tears.
Outside of the Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered last year, bystanders began throwing dollar bills in celebration. Some people brought flowers, laying them on the ground where Floyd took his final breaths. Others prayed next to paintings and images of Floyd, honoring a life cut short.
Many seemed to be in a state of shock, saying they couldn't believe a police officer was convicted for murdering a Black person.
But the overwhelming feeling across the city was one of joy. Chants of "Justice!" and "Black lives matter" rang out across Minneapolis, from George Floyd Square to the steps of the Hennepin county courthouse.
This is a developing story. Check back later for further updates.