Derek Chauvin is handcuffed after the jury returns a verdict of guilty.
On May 25, 2020, an African American man named George Floyd was stopped and arrested by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the arrest, Floyd died after one of the arresting officers knelt on his neck for several minutes. People around the country were outraged after they saw video of the arrest. The next day, all four arresting officers were fired.
Protests erupted in Minneapolis, calling for the officer that killed Floyd to be arrested and charged with murder. Protests soon spread across the country and even around the world. After several days, officer Derek Chauvin was arrested. He was charged with second-degree murder and other crimes. Second-degree murder is murder that is not planned but caused by a lack of care or concern for human life. The other three arresting officers were also charged with related crimes.
Chauvin went on trial for George Floyd’s murder in March 2021. The trial was broadcast live. Each day, viewers saw emotional testimony from witnesses and experts. They talked about Floyd’s life and horrifying death in detail. Prosecutors clarified that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds. This was even longer than previously reported.
The prosecution called a total of 45 witnesses. A series of law enforcement officials, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, testified that Chauvin’s use of force was unnecessary, excessive, and violated police policy. In closing arguments, prosecutor Steve Schleicher said simply that what Chauvin did wasn’t policing. It was murder. Schleicher urged the jury to convict. On April 20, 2021, the jury announced its decision. Chauvin was convicted on all charges for the murder of George Floyd.
The three other arresting officers are still awaiting trial. Chauvin will be sentenced for his crimes in June. He is facing up to 40 years in prison. In addition, the United States Justice Department announced an investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis.