Derek Chauvin Verdict: The First Step Towards Justice

Photo courtesy of bbc.com

Photo courtesy of bbc.com

Lucy Dixon, Staff Writer

On April 20, Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, was found guilty of all charges–unintentional second-degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.

This trial has been one of the most highly anticipated in years. For almost a year, it has been a huge topic of discussion of whether Chauvin would be held accountable for the murder.

The story is that on May 25, 2020 Officer Chauvin was called to a store in Minneapolis by a store clerk who claimed that a man named George Floyd paid him a counterfeit $20 bill. Chauvin handcuffed Floyd and knelt on his neck for 9 minutes. Floyd repeated, “I can’t breathe” over 20 times before suffocating to death after 6 of the 9 minutes.

George Floyd’s death played a huge role in the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been protesting police brutality and systemic racism since 2013. Black Lives Matter protests and rallies have used George Floyd as a symbol of police brutality and a need for accountability and justice.

The trial rested after 11 days, 38 witness testimonies, and extensive video evidence. After hearing both sides, it took 10 hours of deliberating over 2 days for the 12 anonymous jurors to decide that Chauvin was guilty of all charges.

Judge Peter Cahill says that sentencing should be expected in about 8 weeks.

In response to the conviction, on April 21 the Justice Department announced that they will be launching an investigation into whether the Minneapolis police department practices illegal behavior such as excessive force and discriminatory conduct.

Chauvin being held accountable for the murder of George Floyd is the first step towards justice, but police brutality is still as bad as ever. Just moments before the verdict a 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, was shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio.

Bryant called the police to report that a group of older kids were threatening her with assault. When police arrived at the scene they saw Bryant fighting two other girls. One of the officers fired four times at Bryant, fatally wounding her. Bryant died shortly after in the hospital.

Another recent event was the murder of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11. A police officer, Kim Potter, claimed to have mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her taser, shooting and killing Wright.

George Floyd’s killer was held accountable, and hopefully victims of police brutality like Ma’Khia Bryant and Daunte Wright receive justice as well.