It’s been nearly a year since the death of George Floyd, a man who was killed after being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill in a grocery store. He was killed on May 25, 2020 by police officers from the Minneapolis Police Department. While being arrested, George Floyd was kneeled on by officer Derek Chauvin for nine minutes and 29 seconds. J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who were also police officers, assisted Chauvin, while another officer named Tou Thao withheld bystanders from interfering in the situation.
Let's take a moment to remember the life of 46 year old George Floyd. [bf_image id="qfzbty-8jtwaw-7xff4z"]
There was a video taken of Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd which went viral and was shared by many on social media. This video and wrongful killing sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world, calling for the police to be held responsible for their actions.
Derek Chauvin is now facing the charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The other officers are also facing charges for aiding and abetting the murder. It is important to take a look at the takeaways from this extensive trial.
The trial began on March 29, 2021. It was difficult to select the jurors for the trial because the news about George Floyd spread quickly and many people know about it. After much deliberation, 15 anonymous jurors were selected by the legal teams from which there are 9 women and 6 men. The jury who will decide the ultimate verdict consists of six white women, three white men, four black men, two multi-racial women, and one black woman.
The two witnesses in the trial are an MMA fighter who was present at the scene and a gas station worker who recorded the video. Donald Williams, the MMA witness, stated that he saw Floyd “slowly fading away” when he was at the scene where it occurred. The other witness did not remember much, but said she kept recording because it was “not right” that the police have been hurting people for such a long time. The Special Attorney for the State, Jerry Blackwell, stated towards the beginning of the trial that "It’s a homicide. It's murder. You’ll be able to see every part of what Mr. Floyd went through.” [bf_image id="75q7tcb9nhbxhcmtfb3srcqg"]
The trial is now wrapped up and closing arguments occured on April 19, 2021. The Defense began first with Eric Nelson, focused on how Derek Chauvin acted reasonably and in accordance with his training. They are also replying to the statement that Floyd made of “I can’t breathe” with the fact that police officers have a prenotion that “if you can talk, you can breathe.”
The entire world, specifically Americans, are watching closely as this trial on the subject of systemic racism and police brutality comes to a close. As of April 20, 2021, Derek Chauvin was found guilty by the jury for:
1. Second-degree unintentional murder
2. Third Degree Murder
3. Second Degree Manslaughter
Derek Chauvin has been held accountable by the justice system for his actions by being charged for all three counts. The Jury has concluded that Derek Chauvin did indeed kill George Floyd when kneeling on his neck. This is only the beginning of the fight for police reform, so that police officers are better trained to engage with the community, BIPOC, and POC. The result of this trial will pave the way for similar cases and it is critical to be educated about this monumental moment in the American Justice System.
George Floyd and his family should be kept in our prayers as we take in the result of the Minnesota vs Derek Chauvin case.