Tag Archives: Chauvin

Derek Chauvin Receives 22 and a Half Years for Murder of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin Receives 22 and a Half Years for Murder of George Floyd

MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, was sentenced on Friday to 22 and a half years in prison, bringing a measure of closure to a case that set off waves of protest across the nation over police abuse of Black people.

The sentence, delivered by Judge Peter A. Cahill of Hennepin County District Court, came more than a year after a widely shared cellphone video captured Mr. Chauvin pressing his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes along a Minneapolis street. Earlier this year, Mr. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, and the sentence followed emotional statements in court Friday by members of Mr. Floyd’s family as well as by Mr. Chauvin’s mother.

Mr. Chauvin, who spoke only briefly during the hearing on Friday, offering condolences to the Floyd family, has been behind bars since his trial, which ended in April. The judge said Mr. Chauvin would be credited with 199 days already served toward his sentence. Officials said he was being kept in solitary confinement for his own safety.

Before the sentencing hearing, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, had pressed the court for leniency, asking for probation and time served. Mr. Nelson wrote in a memorandum that Mr. Chauvin had not known that he was committing a crime when he tried to arrest Mr. Floyd on a report that he had tried to use a fake $ 20 bill to buy cigarettes. Mr. Nelson also argued that placing Mr. Chauvin in prison would make him a target of other inmates.

In seeking a 30-year prison sentence for Mr. Chauvin, prosecutors had argued that the former officer’s actions had “traumatized Mr. Floyd’s family, the bystanders who watched Mr. Floyd die, and the community. And his conduct shocked the nation’s conscience.”

The killing of Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, by Mr. Chauvin, 45, who is white, led to a national reckoning over racial injustice in almost every aspect of American life. Calls emerged around the country to defund police budgets, remove statues of historical figures tied to racism and diversify predominantly white corporate boards.

The maximum sentence allowed under Minnesota law for second-degree murder, the most serious charge Mr. Chauvin was convicted of, is 40 years. Under Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, though, a presumptive sentence for someone like Mr. Chauvin with no criminal history is 12.5 years. The jury, which deliberated for just over 10 hours following a six week trial, also convicted Mr. Chauvin of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

In recent weeks, Judge Cahill had ruled that four so-called “aggravating factors” applied to the case, raising the prospect of a harsher sentence. The judge found that Mr. Chauvin acted with particular cruelty; acted with the participation of three other individuals, who were fellow officers; abused his position of authority; and committed his crime in the presence of children, who witnessed the killing on a Minneapolis street corner on May 25, 2020.

Mr. Chauvin’s conviction was a rare rebuke by the criminal justice system against a police officer who killed someone while on duty. Officers are often given wide latitude to use force, and juries have historically been reluctant to second guess them, especially when they make split-second decisions under dangerous circumstances.

Mr. Chauvin is one of 11 police officers who have been convicted of murder for on-duty killings since 2005, according to research conducted by Philip M. Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University. The lightest sentence has been just less than seven years in prison, while the harshest was 40 years. The average sentence has been 21.7 years.

Mr. Chauvin’s sentencing on Friday, while a significant milestone, does not end the legal proceedings concerning Mr. Floyd’s death. Mr. Chauvin still faces criminal charges in federal court, where he is accused of violating Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights. And three other police officers face a state trial, scheduled for March, on charges of aiding and abetting. Those officers, too, were indicted by a federal grand jury as well.

Author: Tim Arango
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

Derek Chauvin sentencing: What to expect as former cop faces judge

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin faces sentencing Friday in the death of George Floyd, with a judge weighing a prison term experts say could be as much as 30 years.

Chauvin, 45, was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as the Black man said he couldn’t breathe. It was an act captured on bystander video, which prompted protests around the world.

Here’s what to watch for in a hearing that could run as long as two hours:

WHAT’S POSSIBLE?

Under Minnesota statutes, Chauvin will be sentenced only on the most serious charge of second-degree murder. That’s because all of the charges against him stem from one act, with one victim.

The max for that charge is 40 years, but legal experts have said there’s no way he’ll get that much. Case law dictates the practical maximum Chauvin could face is 30 years – double what the high end of state sentencing guidelines suggest. Anything above that risks being overturned on appeal.

Of course, Judge Peter Cahill could sentence Chauvin to much less. Prosecutors have asked for 30 years, while defense attorney Eric Nelson is seeking probation.

Mark Osler, a professor at University of St. Thomas School of Law, said both sides have staked out extreme positions, and the “gulf is huge between them. I don’t think that either side is going to end up getting what they want.”

WHAT’S REALISTIC?

Minnesota has sentencing guidelines that were created to establish consistent sentences that don’t consider factors such as race or gender. For second-degree unintentional murder, the guideline range for someone with no criminal record goes from 10 years and eight months to up to 15 years. The presumptive sentence is in the middle, at 12 1/2 years.

Cahill last month agreed with prosecutors that aggravating factors in Floyd’s death warrant going higher than the guidelines. The judge found that Chauvin abused his position of authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, and that the crime was seen by several children. He also wrote that Chauvin knew the restraint of Floyd was dangerous.

“The prolonged use of this technique was particularly egregious in that George Floyd made it clear he was unable to breathe and expressed the view that he was dying as a result of the officers’ restraint,” Cahill wrote last month.

Osler said Cahill’s finding of aggravating factors showed his willingness to go above the guidelines. But he said those guidelines still function like a tether, and the further Cahill moves from the guidelines, the more the tether stretches. He said a 20- or 25-year sentence is more likely than 30.

Joe Friedberg, a Minneapolis defense attorney who has been watching the case, agreed. He cited a U.S. Supreme Court case, Koon v. United States, in which the court said a judge could consider that a former police officer would likely spend much of his sentence in isolation for his own safety. Cahill might take the harder time into consideration to give Chauvin a little less, Friedberg said.

WHAT’S HAPPENED BEFORE?

Minnesota sentencing data for the five years through 2019 show that of 112 people sentenced for the same conviction as Chauvin, only two got maximum 40-year sentences. Both cases involved children who died due to abuse; both defendants had prior criminal records and struck plea deals.

The longest sentence during that time period for someone with no criminal history like Chauvin was 36 years, in another case involving the death of a child due to abuse. The sentence was appealed but upheld, with an appellate court finding it “was not excessive when a 13-month-old child was beaten to death.”

WHAT’S EXPECTED AT THE HEARING?

Attorneys on both sides are expected to make brief arguments. Victims or family members of victims can also make statements about how they’ve been affected, but none have said publicly that they will.

Chauvin can talk if he wants, but it’s not clear if he will. Experts say it could be tricky for Chauvin to talk without implicating himself in a pending federal case accusing him of violating Floyd’s civil rights.

While some experts say Chauvin won’t talk, Mike Brandt, another defense attorney watching the case, said he thinks Chauvin will speak, and that he can say a few words without getting himself into legal trouble. “If I was him, I think I would want to try and let people know that I’m not a monster.”

Community members can submit impact statements online, and they may become part of the public record.

WHAT WILL CAHILL CONSIDER?

Cahill will look at arguments submitted by both sides, as well as victim impact statements, community impact statements, a pre-sentence investigation into Chauvin’s past, and any statement Chauvin might make.

When judges hear from defendants, they are typically looking to see if the person takes responsibility for the crime or shows remorse. Friedberg, the defense attorney, said he doubts any statement from Chauvin would affect Cahill’s sentence.

“In state court sentencing in Minnesota it just doesn’t seem to matter to the judges what anybody says at the time of sentencing,” Friedberg said. “When they come out on the bench they will have already decided what the sentence will be.”

HOW LONG ACTUALLY BEHIND BARS?

No matter what sentence Chauvin gets, in Minnesota it’s presumed that a defendant with good behavior will serve two-thirds in prison and the rest on supervised release, commonly known as parole.

That means if Chauvin is sentenced to 30 years, he would likely serve 20 behind bars, as long as he causes no problems in prison. Once on supervised release, he could be sent back to prison if he violates conditions of his parole.

Since his April conviction, Chauvin has been held at the state’s only maximum security prison, in Oak Park Heights. That’s unusual – people don’t typically go to a prison while waiting for sentencing – but Chauvin is there for security reasons. He has been on “administrative segregation” for his safety and has been in a 10 foot-by-10 foot cell, away from the general population. He has meals brought to his room, and is allowed out for solitary exercise for an average of one hour a day.

It wasn’t immediately clear where he would serve his time after he is sentenced. The Department of Corrections will place Chauvin after Cahill’s formal sentencing order commits Chauvin to its custody.

RELATED | Floyd family attorney shares how long he believes Derek Chauvin’s sentence will be

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Author: AP

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

George Floyd's friend says motion filed for new Derek Chauvin trial 'hurt hearts'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — It was no surprise to George Floyd’s best friend that Derick Chauvin’s attorney filed a motion for a new trial alleging jury misconduct and also that pre-trial publicity affected his client’s right to a fair trial.SEE ALSO: Derek Chauvin’s attorney files motion for new trial

“They are going to try anything, all kinds of things, to stop this process of Chauvin being convicted,” said Travis Caines.Caines said family and friends are praying.

Houston attorney Bianca Calderon de la Chica said everyone is entitled to a fair trial. With the motion filed, an appellate judge will now make the next call.

“They would review everything as far as the evidence and, you know, what the jury ultimately found and see if anything should be overturned,” she said.

SEE ALSO: Derek Chauvin verdict: Jury finds ex-cop guilty of murder, manslaughter in George Floyd’s death

Recently, a photo of juror Brandon Mitchell popped up and is raising concerns about impartiality. In the photo, Mitchell was seen wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt at a Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration event in D.C. Mitchell defended himself and said it was not a march for Floyd.

“Either way, I was going to D.C. for this event, even if George Floyd was alive,” he said.De la Chica said Chauvin’s attorney is doing what any other attorney would do for their client.

“That’s what you would want in an attorney. That’s the prudent thing to do, to try and fight for your client, to be an advocate and exhaust all measures,” she said.

Floyd’s close friends, however, see things different.

“Chauvin left a hole in us in this community,” said Caines. “He hurt our hearts, but he will reap what he sows.”

Follow Mayra Moreno on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Mayra Moreno

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Inside the Derek Chauvin Jury Room: 11 of 12 Jurors Were Ready to Convict Right Away

Author: Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Seated at tables six feet apart in a hotel conference room, 12 jurors scribbled letters on slips of paper to indicate how they were leaning on a murder charge against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for killing George Floyd.

When the jury foreman tallied the votes that morning, one of the jurors recalled, there were 11 papers with a “G” written on them — guilty. One paper said “U,” for unsure.

The seven women and five men spent the next few hours poring over the evidence in one of the most closely watched trials in a generation, according to Brandon Mitchell, who has been the only juror to publicly describe the deliberations last week near Minneapolis. Mr. Mitchell said the jurors watched the graphic videos of Mr. Floyd’s death, discussed the testimony of many of the witnesses and experts, and created their own timeline using markers and a whiteboard. By lunchtime, Mr. Mitchell said, the juror who had been unsure, a white woman, had made up her mind: Mr. Chauvin was guilty of all charges.

Mr. Mitchell, 31, a high school basketball coach in Minneapolis, described the deliberations in an interview on Thursday, shedding light on what had happened inside the jury room before the jurors convicted Mr. Chauvin on two murder charges and a manslaughter charge.

Mr. Mitchell said he was excited when he was chosen for the jury and glad to see that the jury was diverse; there were four Black jurors, including Mr. Mitchell, as well as six white jurors and two multiracial jurors. They ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s.

“The pressure, I was ready to embrace it,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Whichever way the verdict went — guilty or not guilty — it was important for me as a Black man to be in the room.”

He said he had expected, before the trial, that he would struggle to come to the right decision in the case, but that after three weeks of testimony, he found the evidence overwhelming.

“I had no doubt in my mind,” Mr. Mitchell said of his decision about Mr. Chauvin’s guilt. Jurors discussed the case for about seven hours over two days before reaching a verdict on the afternoon of April 20, Mr. Mitchell said. They spent much of the first evening of deliberations getting to know one another rather than talking about the case, he said.

Mr. Chauvin, the white officer who was videotaped kneeling on the neck of Mr. Floyd, a Black security guard, for more than nine minutes last May, is scheduled to be sentenced in June and could face decades in prison.

Immediately following closing arguments in the trial on April 19, jurors gathered in a conference room at the hotel where they were sequestered and surrendered their phones for deliberations, Mr. Mitchell said. They took a vote on whether to keep their masks on during deliberations (they chose, unanimously, to take them off), and soon moved to discussing the evidence and the law.

They first considered second-degree manslaughter, the least serious of the charges Mr. Chauvin was facing, and the juror who would later indicate uncertainty about murder said she was unsure about the manslaughter charge, Mr. Mitchell said. Sitting at individual tables that were placed in a U-shape, the jurors took turns describing their thoughts. The jurors decided to wait until the second day of deliberations to discuss the murder charges, but dinner did not arrive for several more hours, so they made small talk instead, chatting about their jobs and children.

At 6:45 the next morning, deputies knocked on each of their hotel doors to wake them up for breakfast and a second day of deliberations, Mr. Mitchell said.

As the jurors considered the murder charges, Mr. Mitchell said, they focused at one point on the exact cause of Mr. Floyd’s death. Many jurors said they believed the prosecutors’ version of what had happened — that Mr. Chauvin’s knee had caused Mr. Floyd’s death — but at least one juror who supported a conviction said she could not be sure that Mr. Chauvin’s knee had been the cause. Still, Mr. Mitchell recalled, the juror said she believed that the former officer was nonetheless responsible because he had continued to pin Mr. Floyd down even after he lost consciousness and never provided medical aid.

After several hours of discussions over a third-degree murder charge, all of the jurors said they favored a conviction, Mr. Mitchell said, and after another half an hour, they had agreed on a second-degree murder conviction as well.

Jurors decided to wait until after lunch to fill out the forms that would make their decision official, Mr. Mitchell said.

“We didn’t want to rush,” he said. “We took a pause to soak it in and say, ‘This is what we’re about to do.’”

Shortly before 2 p.m., they alerted deputies that they had reached a verdict and were rushed from the hotel to the courtroom, where Judge Peter A. Cahill read the verdict.

Mr. Mitchell said that for many of the jurors, including himself, the most powerful witness testimony had come from Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a lung expert who pinpointed what he said was the exact moment that Mr. Floyd took his final breath.

“He just had all of our attention 100 percent,” Mr. Mitchell said of Dr. Tobin, who testified for the prosecution. “I don’t know if there is any other witness that captured us like that.”

Mr. Mitchell said he found the defense team’s case to be weak, lacking in revelatory testimony that might poke holes in the prosecution’s case.

“I was waiting for a moment that was going to be climactic like ‘Wow!’ — a ‘Boom! Aha!’ moment — and it just never happened,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Nothing ever hit. It was kind of deflating. It made the case easy.”

Judge Cahill has said that the jurors’ identities will be kept secret until at least October, though they are free to speak publicly if they choose to. One of the two alternate jurors, who attended the trial but was excused before deliberations began, has spoken publicly, saying she never doubted that Mr. Chauvin was guilty.

Throughout the trial, the jurors referred to one another only by their juror numbers — Mr. Mitchell was No. 52 — until they began deliberations and shared their names. Mr. Mitchell said he and the other jurors made tentative plans to get together for drinks in the summer or the fall, when the case is no longer drawing as much attention.

Mr. Mitchell said that in the weeks after Mr. Floyd’s death, he had been determined not to watch the video of Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, but had seen some of it when it began playing automatically on a social media feed.

As protests engulfed Minneapolis following Mr. Floyd’s death, Mr. Mitchell, who lived downtown, said he had frequently discussed the killing with high school students on the teams he coached to help them express the anger and sadness they felt. He said that he found the protests warranted and necessary, and that he hoped they would lead to change.

“I just want to see police be more compassionate when it comes to Black men, instead of moving with such aggression,” he said.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Derek Chauvin Trial Juror Speaks Out: 'I Could Feel Their Pain'

Author John Eligon
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

MINNEAPOLIS — Hearing the prosecution’s medical experts, one after the next, testify that a lack of oxygen killed George Floyd was already enough to convince Lisa Christensen that Derek Chauvin was guilty of murder.

Then the defense witnesses took to the stand — and they only solidified her confidence in the prosecution’s case.

When one of them, Barry Brodd, a police expert, suggested that someone could rest comfortably in the prone position, face down on the pavement, he lost her, Ms. Christensen said. Then came the defense’s medical expert, Dr. David Fowler, Maryland’s former chief medical examiner. She did not buy his explanation that a combination of drugs, pre-existing medical conditions and even carbon monoxide were to blame for Mr. Floyd’s death.

“I just don’t think it was real believable,” Ms. Christensen said of the defense’s case. “The prosecutors were true to their opening statements. They said in their opening statements, ‘Believe your eyes. What you see, you can believe.’ And for me, that was true.”

Ms. Christensen, 56, had a rare view of the trial of Mr. Chauvin: She was one of 14 jurors selected to serve on the case.

For three weeks she sat anonymously in a courtroom on the 18th floor of a courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, referred to only as Juror 96 as she listened to 45 witnesses and the arguments of the lawyers in one of the most consequential police killing cases the country has ever seen.

Ultimately, she did not get to help decide Mr. Chauvin’s fate. Once all the testimony and arguments had wrapped up, the judge, Peter A. Cahill, told her and another juror that they were the alternates. So they were sent home while the remaining 12 were sequestered in a hotel room to deliberate.

But in an interview on Thursday, it seemed like Ms. Christensen’s view of the case aligned with the rest of the jury, which took just 10 hours to convict Mr. Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, of all three charges he faced in the killing of Mr. Floyd, a Black man, including second-degree murder.

None of the jurors who deliberated and decided Mr. Chauvin’s fate have chosen to speak out, so Ms. Christensen’s description of how she saw the trial is the only insight yet provided into how members of the jury perceived the case.

Ms. Christensen, who said she entered the trial having seen very little of the gruesome video of Mr. Floyd’s murder, described an experience that was more taxing than she could have imagined. It was filled with unexpected twists, from the mundane — a mini-crisis when the Cheetos ran out in the jury room — to the extraordinary, when the police killed a 20-year-old man six blocks from her home in the suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minn., during the trial.

“It was more emotional and more draining than I thought,” she said of her jury service.

Very little was ordinary about this trial. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, very few people were allowed in the courtroom. And because of the high-profile nature of the case, jurors were anonymous and had to be shuttled in and out of the courthouse as discreetly as possible.

Before court each day, jurors convened at meeting places outside of Minneapolis, depending on where they lived, Ms. Christensen said. Her meeting spot was behind a sheriff’s outpost in Brooklyn Park. (The other gathering points were at sheriff’s facilities in Plymouth and Golden Valley, and a public works facility in Bloomington, she said.)

The jurors would load into vans with out-of-state license plates that would drive them to the courthouse’s underground parking lot, within an area fortified by temporary fencing.

Ms. Christensen, who is white, said that while she felt that Mr. Chauvin was in the wrong, she did not view the case through the larger prism of racial justice. She believes that there is a problem with racism in the country, but said she was not well versed on the nuances of it.

She recently got into a dispute with her roommate, who is Black, when she asked him why Mr. Floyd and other people don’t just comply with police commands. “Several times they had to say, ‘Get out of the car’ or ‘Put your hands on the steering wheel.’ And for whatever reason, he just didn’t do it.” But she said that even if she did not understand Mr. Floyd’s resistance, he was treated improperly by the officers.

Her feelings were solidified during the testimony of Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist called by the prosecution. He gave a detailed explanation of how humans breathe, even instructing the jurors to feel different parts of their throat and neck as he testified. He also analyzed Mr. Floyd’s breathing from a video that showed Mr. Chauvin kneeling on his neck.

“He pointed out exactly when Mr. Floyd took his last breath,” she said. “So that was powerful. And then I feel like all the doctors that the prosecutors presented pretty much said the same thing in so many different ways. I feel like they all came to the same conclusion.”

Asked if there was a moment when she doubted the prosecution’s case and thought that maybe Mr. Chauvin was not guilty, Ms. Christensen was unequivocal: “No.”

If the medical experts were decisive for her regarding Mr. Floyd’s cause of death, Ms. Christensen said testimony from bystanders helped her to understand how out of line Mr. Chauvin was. Sitting close to the witness box, she teared up at times when witnesses cried as they recalled seeing the life slowly pressed out of Mr. Floyd. One moment in particular that got to her, Ms. Christensen said, was when a girl on the stand fought back tears, but her chin quivered.

“I was hearing what they were saying, but I also felt it,” she said. “I could feel the guilt. I could feel their pain.”

The bystanders did not seem like an angry mob to her, as Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer suggested, Ms. Christensen said. Rather, they seemed to have more awareness of the situation than Mr. Chauvin and the three other officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s fatal arrest.

“How can all these different people stand on the sidewalk and notice there is something wrong in this situation — I mean, even a 9-year-old could tell you something was wrong,” she said. “How come grown officers, that this is your profession, you’ve had multiple hours of being trained, that you guys can’t tell there’s something wrong?”

Ms. Christensen said she felt that Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, had made good points about what a “reasonable officer” would do as he explained his client’s actions in the nearly 17 minutes leading up to the moment that he took Mr. Floyd to the ground and knelt on him. But it seemed like he could offer no good explanation for Mr. Chauvin’s actions in the nine minutes and 29 seconds he knelt on Mr. Floyd, she said.

And she did not believe that Mr. Chauvin could have explained it away, so she said it was probably a good idea that he did not testify on his own behalf.

“I don’t think he comes across as like a likable kind of guy,” she said. “And maybe that’s just because we’ve seen the video so many times and that picture. Him sitting in the courtroom, he just gave off a cold vibe.”

How Civil Rights Lawyer Keith Ellison Led the Chauvin Prosecution

Author Tim Arango
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Still, while Mr. Hussein called the Chauvin conviction a landmark, he was reluctant to give Mr. Ellison too much credit because he said the evidence and public awareness of the case, especially from the harrowing bystander video, was so overwhelming that anything less than a conviction would have been a stark failure.

After the verdict in the Chauvin case was read on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Ellison, who in the coming months will prosecute three other officers charged in Mr. Floyd’s death who are scheduled to go on trial in August, was measured in his remarks. He said the outcome was simply a starting point that he hoped would lead to a wide-scale reckoning with police abuses against people of color.

“I would not call today’s verdict justice, however,” Mr. Ellison said. “Because justice implies there is restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice.”

During a meeting on Tuesday night with his team, Mr. Ellison noted that he had spent some of the day with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and that Mr. Jackson had been with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the day he died in Memphis in 1968. Mr. Katyal said that Mr. Ellison “drew a link” in the meeting between what the prosecutors did over the last year in achieving justice for Mr. Floyd and the work of Dr. King and the civil rights activists of the 1960s.

In his public remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Ellison invoked the Kerner Commission, a group appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 to investigate the causes of uprisings over racial injustice in American cities.

“Here we are in 2021 still addressing the same problem,” he said, before reciting the names of other Black people killed by the police, including Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Philando Castile and Daunte Wright, who was killed by an officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center during the Chauvin trial.

“This has to end,” Mr. Ellison continued. “We need true justice. That’s not one case. That is a social transformation that says that nobody is beneath the law and no one is above it.”

After Chauvin Verdict, Police React With Relief and Some Resentment

Author John Eligon and Shaila Dewan
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

MINNEAPOLIS — It was shortly after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and all chatter ceased in the roll-call room for the Fourth Police Precinct in North Minneapolis. Everyone’s attention was glued to the television on the wall.

Then came the verdict: Derek Chauvin was guilty on all counts, including murder, for killing George Floyd last May. The station house stayed silent, the officers processing what the verdict meant after a year of tension and conflict, said Inspector Charles Adams, the precinct’s commanding officer.

“It was just like, wow,” Inspector Adams said.

For him, it was a relief — he felt that Mr. Chauvin had been wrong and that his actions, kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, cast a negative light on policing.

But the verdict did little to end months of upheaval and anxiety in his profession.

“So much is being thrown at us as law enforcement officials,” Inspector Adams said. “We’re unsure how we’re going to police in the future.”

Police chiefs and unions across the country condemned Mr. Chauvin’s actions and applauded the jury’s verdict, but not always with the same zeal or for the same reasons. Some said they hoped it would restore faith in the criminal justice system. Others said it would help keep the peace. And still others indicated that it would clear the way for “honest discussion” about policing.

The feelings of rank-and-file officers were more complicated: a mix of relief, resentment at being vilified alongside Mr. Chauvin and unsettling thoughts of themselves in his shoes.

“They’re thinking, ‘Man, I’ve got to think long and hard before I get out of my car and get into something I don’t have to get into,’” said Jim Pasco, the executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police.

In the Minneapolis station house, Inspector Adams heard of remarks from a few rank-and-file officers who believed the defense’s argument that drugs killed Mr. Floyd and that Mr. Chauvin had followed his training.

“Some just think he got a raw deal,” Inspector Adams said. “But there’s a lot of them who think he was guilty, too.”

The full extent of the fallout for Mr. Chauvin will be known on June 16, when he is scheduled to be sentenced.

He is being held alone in a cell in a maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights, Minn., a Twin Cities suburb. He is allowed out for exercise for only an hour each day. Even then, he is kept away from other inmates. Prison officials said Mr. Chauvin was being kept in solitary for his own safety.

Outside the Twin Cities, in rural communities where “Back the Blue” banners hang in storefronts, Mr. Chauvin’s trial at times seemed a world away. There, largely white police departments patrol largely white communities, and residents are often friends or relatives of law enforcement officers.

In Gilbert, Minn., a community of about 2,000 three hours north of Minneapolis, Ty Techar, the police chief, said he watched only about an hour of the trial and 30 seconds of the body-camera footage. While he said that what Mr. Chauvin did would be unacceptable in his department, he stopped short of saying he agreed with the verdict.

“For me to sit here and make a judgment on whether he got a fair trial, I don’t know all the evidence,” he said. “I haven’t looked at it closely enough.”

He added: “Is it second-degree murder or manslaughter? I don’t know much about the case.”

Police unions historically have been the staunchest defenders of officers, even those accused of wrongdoing. They did not defend Mr. Chauvin, but some used the verdict as an occasion to criticize public figures who have scrutinized the police.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement that it wanted “to reach out to the community and still express our deep remorse for their pain” and that “there are no winners in this case.”

“We need the political pandering to stop and the race-baiting of elected officials to stop,” the statement said. “In addition, we need to stop the divisive comments and we all need to do better to create a Minneapolis we all love.”

Police and union officials have argued that the consistent pressure some community members and elected leaders place on law enforcement can be a detriment.

In Minneapolis, there are several efforts to significantly downsize the Police Department and create a new public safety division. The governor of Minnesota has come out in support of a bill to limit police traffic stops for minor infractions. The Justice Department on Wednesday announced a broad civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

Inspector Adams said that several officers were now hesitant to perform even some of the most basic duties like traffic stops, worrying that such situations might escalate and get them in trouble.

In New York, a union leader seemed to play on such anxieties.

“It is hard to imagine a tougher time to be a member of the law enforcement profession,” Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, wrote in a letter after the verdict was announced. He warned members that their every action was being recorded and that “scores of attorneys” were eager to sue them.

“Our elected officials are complicit in perpetuating the myth that we are the enemy,” he added.

Attitudes like that, activists said, speak to the resistance of law enforcement to be held accountable and allow police abuses to continue.

Some police officials said the backlash to Mr. Chauvin’s actions actually provided an opportunity to improve.

“I think it takes us a step closer toward reform,” said Michael S. Harrison, Baltimore’s police commissioner. “It doesn’t make it harder to do our jobs. It makes it where we have to train better, and use best practices and we have to do our job the right way.”

The guilty verdict was a significant reminder for officers to stay within their training, said Rick Smith, the police chief in Kansas City, Mo.

“I think officers understand that going outside the norms leads to potential issues,” he said. “And this one highlighted that in the hundredth degree across the nation.”

Inspector Adams said he believed that the judicial process ultimately helped the profession regain some of its credibility. Nine current and retired members of the Minneapolis Police Department testified against Mr. Chauvin at trial, including the police chief.

That testimony, Inspector Adams said, showed the public that Mr. Chauvin was not representative of the Minneapolis police. The prosecution’s assertion during closing arguments that its case was against Mr. Chauvin, not the police, also helped, he said.

After Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that Mr. Chauvin acted outside of department policy, Inspector Adams said he texted him to say he was proud to belong to his staff.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Eric Killelea contributed reporting from Minneapolis. Kim Barker and Ali Watkins also contributed reporting.

Derek Chauvin Verdict Brings a Rare Rebuke of Police Misconduct

“May it please the court. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, good morning. The video evidence, I think, will be very helpful and meaningful to you because you can see it for yourself without lawyer talk, lawyer spin, lawyer anything. You can see it for yourself.” “Please. Please. I can’t breathe. Please, man. Please somebody help me. Please. I’m about to die in this thing.” “Oh my God.” “What did he say?” “He said, I’m about to die. Oh my God.” “While watching the George Floyd trial, I noticed the differences and the importance of footage.” “This corner —” “When Stephon was murdered, we only had the officers’ footage. We only had their point of view.” “Hey, show your hands.” “You know, when my son was killed being on the platform, there was several bystanders that filmed. And had it not been for the cameras, we wouldn’t even be here today because they would have probably said it was justified.” “Bro, with your feet on his head, man. You knee on his neck.” “He’s pushing harder.” “Yeah.” “I cannot breathe.” “A little bit more. Right here.” “I don’t watch the footage of my dad’s incident because it’s torture.” “You see the officers giving a trove of blows to his body?” “Yes.” “To his arms, to his torso, to his legs.” “Here it is 30 years later, nothing has changed.” “Now who are you going to believe? The defendants or your own eyes?” “I am watching the George Floyd case with my best friend, Tiffany, at her home.” “Oh my gosh.” “Wow.” “And he’s still on his neck.” “Today was the first time I watched the entire video of George Floyd, and it definitely made me think about my dad begging for his life screaming.” “Check his pulse. Check his pulse.” “His daughter was the same age I was when my dad was beaten.” “My name is Lora Dene King. I’m the middle child of Rodney Glen King.” “The world saw the videotape.” “We thought the video showed excessive force and unnecessary force.” “With that videotape, if they had two eyes and they weren’t blind, you could see that it was excessive force.” “The defense tried to dilute the impact of the tape by dissecting it, frame by frame, in an effort to show that King was a threat to the officers.” “He kind of gave out like a bear-like yell, like a wounded animal. If he had grabbed my officer, it would have been a death grip. If he had grabbed the weapon, he would have had numerous targets.” “He didn’t grab anybody during these events, did he?” “No sir, he did not.” “He couldn’t walk. He had 50 broken bones. His skull was permanently fractured. He had permanent brain damage. My dad was never the same after that. You know, and everybody just considered him to be normal. I think if that happened to anybody, they wouldn’t be normal ever again.” “This doesn’t just affect the person it happened to. It also affects all those people who are out there watching it. They’re all affected forever.” “I was desperate to help.” “I was just kind of emotional, and I went to the African-American that was standing there on the curb. And I was just like, they’re not going to help them.” “Oh my God.” “This man, he witnessed another African-American man getting his life taken. The nine-year-old speaker on the trial.” “Good morning, [inaudible].” “Good morning.” “Which one is you?” “Just so happened to be walking down the street. She will never forget that for the rest of her life.” “You ultimately ended up posting your video to social media, right?” “Correct.” “And it went viral?” “Correct.” “It changed your life, right?” “The girl who filmed George Floyd, the fact that there was nothing she can do to save his life.” “It’s been nights, I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.” “That’s something that will haunt her like George Holliday, who captured my dad’s video.” “Without George Holliday, these four officers might not be on trial.” “He just wanted to test this new camera he had. Like, oh let me take — he stood there shaking, terrified. And he still suffers to this day because that was the right thing to do.” “What could he have done to deserve that?” “If I was to see George Floyd’s daughter today, I wish there was something I can say. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. Because I’m sure she’s watched that videotape. And that’s something that carries in your mental every everyday, just like my dad’s video tape.” “For the jury, a difficult decision ahead, knowing that to acquit the four officers could ignite this city.” “Not guilty of —” Chanting: “No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.” “And damage to the city of Los Angeles running into billions of dollars.” “That’s what I’m saying. The police, they don’t pay a cent for this trial. So my mother and I, we was watching the George Floyd’s trial. And it brought back so many memories of my son Oscar’s case. Oscar’s last picture in his cellphone was of the officer who shot him.” “My name is Wanda Johnson. I’m the mother of Oscar Grant.” “Grant was shot once in the back as he lay face down on the train station’s platform.” “He was unarmed.” “The 27-year-old officer has said he thought he had drawn his Taser gun —” “— but accidentally pulled out his handgun instead.” “And the incident was captured on cellphone video.” “Video speaks for themselves. And the jury will see that and make the correct decision.” “We knew that we would have a very hard time winning in the court systems because the judicial system was not made for everyone in the society.” “As the situation went on, the crowd began to grow and grow.” “Oh my goodness, the same playbook that they used for what happened with Oscar, they used the same thing for George Floyd. Oh, there was a crowd of angry mob people.” “They were behind them. There were people across the street, people yelling.” “We don’t know if they were going to attack us. I thought about the young man testifying in George Floyd’s case.” “You grew angrier and angrier.” “Calling the police on the police.” “911, what’s the address of the emergency?” “How do you have somebody investigate those that they work with? Of course you’re going to find that they’re going to believe the people that they work with quicker than they will believe the citizens who are filing the complaint.” “Would you like to speak with those sergeants?” “Yeah, I’d like to. He was unresponsive. He wasn’t resisting arrest or any of this.” “OK, one second.” “Murderers, bro. Y’all are just murderers, bro.” “You know, when we was going to jury trial for Oscar, they would ask questions like, ‘Do you know anybody who went to jail? Do you know anybody who had an encounter with the police?’ And as soon as the person said that, they would strike them from being a juror, right? Having a jury that consists of different backgrounds, it could help with the decision-making of innocent or guilty.” “The 27-year-old officer —” “— pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.” “His trial had been moved to Los Angeles over concerns of racial tension and intense media scrutiny.” “Everybody, let’s just pray for one minute.” “Father God, we come to you and your son named Jesus Christ. Father, we ask the people that see this —” “Every time I come to my mom’s house, I’m reminded that my son was killed here.” “My name is Sequette Clark. I’m the mother of Stephon Clark.” “22-year-old Stephon Clark was fatally shot while running from police.” “Clark was see evading authorities after allegedly smashing a car window.” “He was shot eight times in his grandmother’s backyard.” “Police apparently thinking he was holding a gun, now say it was a cellphone.” “Out of fear for their own lives, they fired their service weapon.” “And following the incident, officers manually muted their body cameras at times.” “Move over this way.” “As we watched the George Floyd trial, I invited particular members of my family because you can’t address something in the community or the city or the nation until you address it at home with the family.” “When Mr. Floyd was in distress, Mr. Chauvin wouldn’t help him, didn’t help him.” “So that’s just how they left my boy out there. They handcuffed him after he was dead.” “Excessive force.” “Excessive force and lethal force after the fact of death. I felt saddened, heavy, drained. I felt as if I was a slave 400 years ago. Just hearing how he was dead, seeing how he was dead. And then to turn around and hear the defense’s attempt to bring up the fact that we should not focus on the —” “— 9 minutes and 29 seconds —” “— that it took to kill George Floyd. But we should focus on what went on ahead of that. Anything that does not deal directly with the murder of George Floyd is irrelevant in my opinion.” “He’s 6 to 6 and a half feet tall. You did not know that he had taken heroin. Mr. Floyd did use a counterfeit $ 20 bill to purchase a pack of cigarettes. Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth.” “Poppa’s already dead. George Floyd is already dead.” “That’s right. That’s right.” “So now you’re resurrecting him just to kill him all over again.” “Basically.” “Defame him in order to justify the wrongdoing of your officers, reminded me exactly of what the district attorney did to Stephon.” “The cellphone examination revealed a domestic violence incident that happened with the mother of his children. Texts and phone calls showing that he was seeking drugs and a photograph of his hand holding 10 Xanax pills.” “What was on his cellphone has zero to do with the actions of the police officers at the time of his homicide. I feel like it’s a bittersweet thing that’s happening watching the George Floyd trial. Because I’m optimistic that this is a piece of justice for the death of my son.” “We might not be here. They’re going to get him. They’re going to get him.” “Was a crime committed? The answer to that question is no. And as a result, we will not charge these officers with any criminal liability related to the shooting death or the use of force of Stephon Clark.” “April 14, 1991: King fights emotional and physical scars. So this is basically a photo album book of my dad’s newspaper articles since he’s been in the news. Years and years and years. You throw someone to the wolves and you expect them to be normal. You know, there’s no such thing as normal after that. And then, can you imagine how many Rodney Kings there is that never got videotaped? There’s plenty of them.” “I would have prayed and hoped that Oscar’s trial would have been televised because America has to really look in the mirror and say, ‘Are all people being treated equally?’” “There was excessive use of force against George Floyd —” “We’re not focused on the videotape, his toxicology, his heart condition. We’re focused on the fact that several people witnessed this man get murdered.” “You can see it with our own eyes. It’s crazy.” “People don’t realize what it does to your family. It’s bigger than just a trial and this officer. We never get to see them again. We never get to smell them again and kiss them again. Our lives are completely affected forever.”

Author John Eligon, Tim Arango, Shaila Dewan and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Chauvin trial reactions: Texas leaders share what the guilty verdict means to them

Author Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sen. Royce West stood in his office in the Texas Capitol, eyes glued to the television screen as the judge in Derek Chauvin’s trial read out the verdict: guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd.

“What’s crossing my mind is the system actually worked for a change, and I think that maybe, and hopefully this will lower the temperature some in this country and in this state as it relates to these types of issues,” said the Democratic senator who introduced a bill this legislative session called the “George Floyd Act” which, among other things, would ban police officers’ use of chokeholds.

The jury determined former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin’s actions during the arrest of Floyd led to his death. It convicted him on second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

West said the “surge of evidence” made it clear to both him and the jury that Chauvin didn’t follow police procedures and policies.

“You can’t sit up and tell me that a person puts his knee on someone’s neck for nine minutes and not know what he’s doing. It was real clear that the jury felt the same way, because they came back after what — 11 hours. It was real clear on all the different counts,” West said.

Chauvin will be sentenced in about eight weeks.

As the news of the conviction on all counts for Chauvin was announced, state and local leaders’ reactions began pouring in.

The Texas Democrats’ statement focused on the sense of solace the verdict provides and reflected on the millions of people who protested “in collective grief and outrage” at Floyd’s death last summer. But, it also called out the deep need to keep addressing inequalities of the justice system.

“Today’s verdict is a small step towards the dismantling of the gargantuan barrier that has prevented justice for so many families and communities affected by this national epidemic of senseless killing of Black Americans. It is a small step towards healing,” Texas Democratic Party Bice Chair Dr. Carla Brailey said.

Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn haven’t shared a specific reaction to the verdict as of an hour after it was read. Neither has Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Meanwhile, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump immediately tweeted:

“GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!”

Crump said President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden called Floyd’s family after the verdict was read.

Austin activists say Chauvin verdict offers hope for Mike Ramos case

Author Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some Black Lives Matter advocates in Austin are celebrating former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction Tuesday.

“Today is just a huge sigh of relief,” said Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition.

“It’s not a relief, because he’s going to jail,” he added, saying that’s part of the system they’re hoping to reform. “It’s a sigh of relief, because it says that, you know, today, it’s true that Black lives do matter. And when you break that truth, you’ll be held accountable.”

Moore hopes Tuesday’s conviction of Chauvin for murdering George Floyd is a sign for future cases.

He told KXAN he was already thinking about the impending trial of Austin police officer Christopher Taylor. A grand jury indicted him last month for the deadly shooting of Mike Ramos.

“I literally just got a text message from Brenda Ramos, the mother of Mike Ramos. She was, you know, elated to see the verdict. So, I think she’s feeling really reenergized. I think she’s feeling hopeful — as am I,” Moore said.

KXAN turned to an expert on criminal law and justice for perspective.

“It remains rare to see criminal convictions of police officers for the use of force and even rarer to see murder convictions for police officers for the use of force,” said Jennifer Laurin, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

Laurin said while the verdict out of Minnesota has no legal bearing on use-of-force cases here, she thinks it’s still a learning moment for many prosecutors.

“Noting what sorts of strategies seem to be persuasive, learning about which experts are potentially more or less persuasive witnesses,” Laurin explained. “I think that prosecutors, even outside the particular jurisdiction in which the case occurs, watch these cases to learn more about how they might make a more persuasive presentation to a particular jury.”

She also notes the unusual nature of Minnesota law that helped prosecutors win their case.

“Second-degree murder in Minnesota can be proved through a theory called ‘felony murder,’ and it can be proved based on the jury believing that an assault occurred and that an individual died in the course of that assault,” said Laurin.

Laurin said that makes murder and felony murder a broader offense in Minnesota than in other places, including, she believes, in Texas.

“I think that has to be seen as part of the story for why the prosecution’s path to conviction in this case was actually — as difficult as it was — easier than it would be in many other jurisdictions where a particular theory on which they prevailed would not have been available,” she said.

That means in other jurisdictions, prosecutors would “have to prove more with respect to the seriousness of the felony and the manner in which it was committed,” she said.

Taylor’s grand jury indictment is the first known indictment of an Austin police officer for first-degree murder resulting from a use-of-force incident, according to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

There’s no timeline yet for when that trial will begin.