In May 2020, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Before becoming unresponsive, Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” and repeatedly cried out for his mother.
Former officer Chauvin continued to hold his knee on Floyd’s neck for another two minutes and 53 seconds despite Floyd’s lack of movement nor complaints. His death went viral and triggered mass protests around the world, especially in the US.
Some days later, on May 29, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter.
Fast forward to April 20, 2021, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd. The jury deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days before putting an end to an emotional trial that lasted three weeks.
Over the course of three separate phases of the court case, prosecutors called 38 witnesses and five different medical experts who explained Floyd’s death by “positional asphyxia.” Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree unintentional murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for manslaughter.
Customarily, Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines recommend around 12.5 years for each murder count and four years for manslaughter. However, by reason of circumstance, the state asked for a longer and tougher sentence.
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, expressed relief once Chauvin was found guilty as charged after spending nights awake hoping justice will be served. The Floyd’s await the trial of former officers Lane, Kueng and Thao.
All three officers pleaded not guilty to the charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Their joint trial will be held this summer.