This past Tuesday, after just over ten hours of deliberation, a jury has found Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis Police officer, guilty of the charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter as it pertains to the death of George Floyd.
Three separate charges were considered by the jury, “second-degree murder—unintentional, while committing a felony; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “The judge explained that third-degree murder requires proof Mr. Chauvin caused Mr. Floyd’s death by committing an eminently dangerous act that was highly likely to cause death and showed a reckless disregard for human life. To convict Mr. Chauvin of second-degree manslaughter, the jurors would need to conclude that culpable negligence and reckless actions by Mr. Chauvin caused Mr. Floyd’s death.”
The jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges.
On the 25th of last May, Chauvin and three other officers detained and arrested Floyd after he allegedly gave counterfeit money at a local convenience store. After a struggle to move Floyd into the rear of a police car, video evidence shows that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back for about nine minutes in order to detain Floyd while paramedics made their way.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, made the argument during the trial that Floyd’s drug use and bad heart were prime factors in his death, and that Chauvin exerted reasonable force using an authorized prone hold. The medical examiner of Hennepin County showed findings from Floyd’s autopsy that showed the deceased had potentially lethal amounts of drugs in his system at the time of death.
On Monday, Nelson made the argument to Judge Peter Cahill for a mistrial but was denied.
Nelson also complained that the jury used in the trial had not been sequestered for the trial, despite how the jurors were likely being “bombarded” with messages and media reports about the case.
Nelsons concerns were dismissed by Judge Cahill, telling him, “Well, to be fair, the last few times I advised [the jury], I told them not to watch the news, pure and simple.”
Nelson went on to make the argument that it was almost certainly impossible for the jurors to get away from the outside press and messaging. He highlights the fact that jurors were not in fact told to stay away from all media, but only to try to avoid certain media that may pertain to the case at hand.
The most important thing that Nelson stated was a reference to recent comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) that seemed to encourage violence in the streets if Chauvin was not immediately convicted. These concerns were dismissed by Judge Cahill as well concerning a mistrial, although he did criticize the congresswoman and stated to Nelson she may have given him an avenue for appeal.
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict. We’re looking for a guilty verdict. And we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd,” Waters stated. “If nothing does not happen, then we know, that we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice, but I am very hopeful and I hope that we’re going to get a verdict that will say guilty, guilty, guilty. And if we don’t, we cannot go away.”