MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The jury reached a verdict Tuesday at the murder trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, the Black man who was pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck in a case that set off a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S. and was the focus of worldwide protest.
The world viewed Floyd’s death came last May after Chauvin, a white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes. That video caused millions of people who never met the man to come out during a pandemic to protest his death.
The verdict arrived at after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days, was to be read late in the afternoon in a city on edge against the possibility of more unrest like that that erupted last spring.
The courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers were brought in ahead of the verdict. Some businesses boarded up with plywood.
Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a 45-year-old now-fired white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe and onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off.
The jury made up of six white people and six Black or multiracial people, also it is a jury that is very representative of a number of age groups.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that the guilty verdict in Chauvin’s trial was a necessary, “important step forward” in the push for racial justice but that the city and state still have a long road ahead.
“This murder verdict won’t change the fact that George Floyd’s family has been rendered incomplete. It won’t undo the damage to the community, restore the potential and promise of his life, or give a child her father back,” Frey (D) said in a news release. “But the decision marks an important step in our pursuit of racial justice in Minneapolis — one important step on a much longer journey.”
Walz (D) echoed those sentiments in a separate news release, saying that “accountability in the courtroom is only the first step.”
“Too many Black people have lost — and continue to lose — their lives at the hands of law enforcement in our state,” the governor said. “Our communities of color cannot go on like this. Our police officers cannot go on like this. Our state simply cannot go on like this. And the only way it will change is through systemic reform.”
Earlier in the day Tuesday, President Joe Biden weighed in by saying he believes the case is “overwhelming.”
He said that he had spoken to Floyd’s family on Monday and “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling.”
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
The president has repeatedly denounced Floyd’s death but previously stopped short of commenting on the trial itself.