After a little over ten hours of deliberation, a jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to the death of George Floyd.
The jury considered three separate charges, “second-degree murder—unintentional, while committing a felony; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter,” according to 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.”
They found Chauvin guilty on all three.
On May 25, Chauvin and three other officers arrested and detained Floyd after he allegedly gave counterfeit money at a convenience store. Following a struggle to get Floyd into the back of a police cruiser, viral video shows that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back for nearly nine minutes to detain Floyd while awaiting paramedics.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson argued during the trial that Floyd’s drug use and bad heart were crucial factors in his death, and that Chauvin used reasonable force through an authorized prone hold. The Hennepin County medical examiner revealed that Floyd’s autopsy showed the deceased had potentially lethal levels of drugs in his system.
Nelson argued to Judge Peter Cahill on Monday for a mistrial, but was unsuccessful.
The defense attorney complained that the jury had not been sequestered for the trial, despite jurors likely being “bombarded” with outside messaging and media reports about the case.
Judge Cahill dismissed the concerns, telling Nelson, “Well, to be fair, the last few times I advised [the jury], I told them not to watch the news, pure and simple.”
Nelson argued that it was virtually impossible for the jurors to get away from the outside press and messages, highlighting that jurors were not told to stay away from all media, but only to try to avoid media that pertains to the case.
The attorney also said that he had to get rid of an email account over “literally thousands and thousands and thousands” of messages from outsiders, and that alerts on his smart devices are at times unavoidable.
The defense attorney added that messaging over the case has even popped up in television shows, at least two of them within the past few days. Nelson did not name the specific shows in the court room but said he would like to add supplemental documents detailing the claim.
Most notably, Nelson referenced recent comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) that seemingly encouraged violence if Chauvin is not convicted. This, too, was dismissed by Judge Cahill concerning a mistrial, though he did blast the congresswoman and told Nelson she could have given him a lane for an 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 said. “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.”