Verdict Already In — Derek Chauvin Found Guilty On All Charges

By Maryam Henein

After less than 24 hours of deliberations, 12 jurors, who were sequestered, found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all the counts filed against him — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison. He declined to testify in the trial.

The trial is arguably the most famous police brutality prosecution in the history of the United States. They started deliberations after hearing from 44 witnesses over 14 days of testimony. The trial began seven weeks ago on March 8 with jury selection, and it was live-streamed across the world.

Just recently, Joe Biden said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict.” He added that “the evidence is overwhelming,” which is surprising to anyone actually paying attention to the details of this case versus mainstream media coverage.

Jurors spent approximately eight hours, 20 minutes deliberating across two days.

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The seven women and five men were asked to decide between the prosecution’s claims that Chauvin used excessive force and an unsanctioned maneuver when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes last May 25, and the defense’s argument that Chauvin was following his training when he arrested a drugged-out Floyd, who died of an overdose and pre-existing heart disease and clogged arteries.

In regards to convictions, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill will be asked to determine whether there were aggravating factors in the case, which the prosecution can use in arguing for a higher than recommended prison term. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, which is leading the prosecution, previously filed notice that it would seek the factors and a longer sentence.

Prosecutors wrote there were five aggravating factors:

  • Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” because his hands were handcuffed behind him.
  • Floyd was treated with “particular cruelty.” Prosecutors said at trial that Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck even though he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse for nearly five minutes. Bystander video also captured Floyd repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe before he became unresponsive.
  • The officers abused their position of authority.
  • The officers committed the act as a group.
  • The officers’ actions occurred in front of children. The youngest witness was Judeah Reynolds, then 9. Her cousin, Darnella Frazier, then 17, recorded and shared video of the incident, which basically helped lead the criminal prosecution.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued at trial that the bystanders, which also included adults, were hostile toward the officers and created a potential threat.

Second-degree unintentional murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. However, Minnesota sentencing guidelines call for identical presumptive prison terms for both counts, starting at 12 1/2 years for someone with no criminal history.

Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000. The count carries a presumptive sentence of four years for someone with no criminal history.

Kueng, Lane, and Thao are scheduled to be tried on Aug. 23 for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. All three, who were fired like Chauvin, are out on bond. Chauvin had also been out on bond during his trial.

Today’s ruling will undoubtedly have an impact on the future of policing in this country.

To read previous reports on the entire trial, go here.

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