The jury in the high-profile trial of white former police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and murder in death of African-American George Floyd.
The verdict, which was reached after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days, was read late in the afternoon in a city on the outskirts of the possibility of more unrest such as the one that broke out last spring.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of murder in Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, which sparked protests against racial errors in the world and is seen as a milestone for police responsibility.
The jury of seven women with five men held four hours of deliberations on Monday night at the end of a three-week trial and returned on Tuesday morning.
President Joe Biden spoke to reporters before announcing that a verdict had been reached and demanded the “right” decision in the racist trial.
The president stressed that he would not speak if the jury had not been bound, which means that it is isolated from the public until it makes a decision.
Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes when the handcuffed 46-year-old black man repeatedly said “I can not breathe” and then died.
U.S. cities have blocked out possible violence, depending on the verdict, and Minneapolis is under an unparalleled security lockdown.
Biden told reporters he had spoken to the Floyd family on the phone and said “I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they feel. So I waited until the jury was combined and I called.”
“They are a good family and they demand peace and quiet, no matter what they are,” said Biden.
“I pray that they are the right ones that I think are overwhelming.”
National Guard deployed
Prosecutors and defense presented closing arguments on Monday and Judge Peter Cahill sent the case to the jury.
In his final instructions to the jury, the judge noted the seriousness of the case, which comes amid heightened tensions driven by other police killings.
“You must not allow bias, prejudice, passion, sympathy or the public to influence your decision,” Cahill said. “You must not consider any consequences or penalties that may result from your judgment.”
A unanimous verdict was required for conviction of any of the charges – second-degree murder, third-degree murder or murder.
Chauvin, a 19-year-old veteran of the Minneapolis police, was sentenced to a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder, the most serious charge.
Three other former police officers involved in Floyd’s deadly arrest – he would have tried to use a counterfeit $ 20 bill in a store – will go to trial later this year.
Amid fears of unrest, National Guard troops have been deployed in Minneapolis and Washington, the nation’s capital.
Minneapolis has been the scene of night protests since Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was shot dead in a Minnesota suburb on April 11 by a white policewoman.
In Washington, the National Guard said about 250 troops were deployed “to support local law enforcement” in response to potential demonstrations.
Prosecutors in Monday’s closing arguments showed excerpts from the frightening spectator video of Floyd’s death that was seen by millions around the world.
“This is exactly what you thought when you first saw it, when you saw that video,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher told the jury.
“You can believe your eyes,” Schleicher said. “It’s exactly what you knew, it’s what you felt in your gut, it’s what you now know in your heart.”
“This was not police, this was murder,” Schleicher said. “Nine minutes and 29 seconds of shocking government abuse.”
( Jowhar with AFP and AP)