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The jury has found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges for the murder of George Floyd, whose death last May sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and anti-Black violence. A verdict was reached after the jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about 10 hours since Monday after three weeks of witness testimony.
Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes, faced second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges. The most severe of these charges, second-degree murder, carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.
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The charges required prosecutors to argue that Chauvin committed an assault against Floyd and that this assault played a substantial role in his death, specifically from low oxygen, or asphyxia. Meanwhile, the defense claimed that Floyd’s use of drugs and a preexisting heart condition led to his death.
Chauvin had previously agreed to plead guilty to the charge of third-degree murder, which could have landed him in prison for more than 10 years, days after Floyd’s death, but then Attorney General William Barr rejected the plea deal, worrying that the growing swell of protesters nationwide would see the arrangement as too lenient.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in Minneapolis last Memorial Day after a convenience store clerk called police about a customer’s suspected use of a counterfeit bill. Arriving on the scene, three officers pinned Floyd to the ground and handcuffed him. Then, Chauvin, a white officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. In video footage captured by a bystander, Floyd is heard saying, “I can’t breathe, officer.”
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