Last May 2020, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, a Black man, George Floyd was killed in broad daylight by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. The officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately nine and half excruciating minutes as Floyd remained handcuffed behind his back and lay face down on the ground.
This tragic killing happened after a shop employee reported Floyd to the police for paying for his items with, what was believed to be, a counterfeit $20 bill. Soon after, Minneapolis police arrived on the scene and apprehended Floyd. Within moments of his apprehension Floyd was forced into a prone position on the ground, and Officer Derek Chauvin, placed his left knee on Floyd’s neck while other officers held the rest of his body to the pavement. Chauvin with his hands in his pockets cavalierly pressed with the force of his body Floyd’s face into the pavement pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck and back for a torturous 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Footage from the police body cameras revealed that Floyd continually told the police he couldn’t breathe and over and again pleaded for his mother. At one point, Floyd said, “You’re going to kill me, man.” Despite the former’s pleading, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck until he was unresponsive and even still, well past Floyd’s tragic demise.
Almost a year after the gruesome death of a Black man at the hands of the Minneapolis police, a US jury has decided on a verdict. The jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder. He was charged with and found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.
Chauvin’s bail was revoked and he was immediately placed into custody. Sentencing will most likely happen in the next two months and the former police officer could be facing decades in prison. The counts for Mr. Chauvin’s crimes are as follows: third-degree murder, which is causing death to a person by “perpetrating an act imminently dangerous to others and evidencing depraved mind without regard for human life,” carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail, second-degree manslaughter,carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, and second-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 40 years.
The Jury and factors that contributed to their decision
Reports say that trial jury members consisted of four Black, two multiracial, and six white individuals. The jury faithfully reported for duty to the Hennepin County Government Center each day. Intense security measures, like a private entrance to the court, were followed to ensure their safety.
The jury heard from 45 witnesses, some of whom were police officers testifying for the prosecution. During the trial each jurist was provided a laptop to be able to monitor and review all the video footage and exhibits presented. The jury watched several hours of video footage from, police body cameras, bystanders who filmed the incident, and listened to detailed arguments from the prosecutors and defense council. Key medical witnesses also explained to the jury that Floyd died due to a loss of oxygen as a result of the actions taken by former Officer Chauvin and his colleagues. Some of the eyewitnesses gave powerful testimonies, describing what happened to Floyd as one of the most traumatizing events they have ever witnessed.
Lessons to learn from what happened
Racism has, is, and will always be rampant in America if people do not come to understand and accept its grave effect on humanity.
One of the biggest lessons to learn from the brutal killing of George Floyd, is that people need to fight racism not only for themselves but more importantly, for others. If not for the valuable testimonies of witnesses who believed that the police officer they witnessed kneeling on George Floyd’s neck murdered him right before their eyes; this officer, this suspect, most likely would have been acquitted.
Whether you’re in school, on the streets, or at work, in is important that one take a stand against racism and view its effects as unfair and inhumane. It is just as important to recognize that those who enforce the law are not above the law. Everyone has a right to fair and equal treatment. Justice for all, as they say.
At Safe Haven Dialogues, we can help make significant changes against systemic racism in your workplace and community. We offer an individual approach to ensure that we contribute to making this world a better place for everyone, no matter the age, sex, gender orientation, or race.