On April 20, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the death of George Floyd. Chauvin was charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin’s trial had everyone on their toes as it lasted almost a month; tensions and high stakes even caused some viewers to watch the live trial at home. The guilty verdict, delivered by Judge Peter Cahill, reached the 23.2 million Americans who tuned in to watch the verdict of Chauvin.
While there was a video depicting Chauvin pressing his knee on Floyd’s throat for over nine minutes, the defense made their argument that there were several other factors that led to Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s defense team argued potential factors included Floyd’s enlarged heart, fentanyl, methamphetamine and even carbon monoxide from the car exhaust.
In spite of Floyd’s girlfriend testifying about the couple’s opioid addictions, Floyd’s lawyers encouraged the jurors to look past Floyd’s past drug use and delivered a strong argument.
Taking over two days, it took the jury about 10 hours to come up with a verdict. The jury was composed of a diverse group of people including four black people, two multiracial and six white people. Two white women were dismissed.
Chauvin’s sentencing will be in about seven weeks with him facing up to 75 years. Unintentional second-degree murder has a maximum sentence to up to 40 years, third-degree murder has a maximum of up 25 years and second-degree manslaughter has a maximum of up to 10 years.
After hearing the verdict, Floyd’s family became overwhelmed with emotions. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd told reporters, “I was just praying they would find him guilty. As an African American, we never usually never get justice.”
Sophomore pre-law major Alexandria Wilson believes this case was just a hint of justice. “One person does not mean justice was served,” Wilson said. “George Floyd is still dead and innocent black lives are still being taken by police brutality.”
Wilson has discussed this trial in many of her courses and believes if Chauvin was not found guilty, there would have been a repeat of last summer’s protest, rioting and looting.
“With it being live, there was a lot of pressure on the verdict,” Wilson said. “There is also a number of organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, that would have led several protests around America. I believe with the increase of vaccinations and the decrease of COVID cases, there would have been even more people outside, so I am happy this was the verdict. However, this is not true justice.”
Wilson is very excited to start her career as a lawyer as she’ll be able to bring true justice for people of color, without feeling pressured. “As a black woman in this field, there has not been a lot of us taking on high profile cases,” Wilson said. “I want to be able to get true justice for people of color because there’s not much of that.”
Chauvin is currently awaiting sentence in a segregated unit at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights. In mid-June, Chauvin should have a sentence.
Photo credit: CNN