Derek Chauvin’s Verdict



Officer Chauvin was charged with three counts of murder after causing the death of George Floyd.

Shivani R. and Mikah C.

On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Houston, was arrested by Minneapolis police officers for purchasing cigarettes with what was presumed to be a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. It was later determined to be genuine. A convenience store employee called the police to the scene right away. About 17 minutes after law enforcement arrived, three police officers had Floyd pinned to the ground. 

For nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck. Witnesses repeatedly stated that Floyd was unable to breathe. Despite calls from the crowd and confirmation that his position was lethal, Chauvin refused to remove his knee, even after Floyd lost consciousness, and held this position for a minute and twenty seconds after the paramedics appeared at the site. Floyd was killed that night. 

Derek Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department on May 26th after working for 19 years. He was then arrested on May 29th. Prior to his arrest, Chauvin had 18 complaints filed against him. “Chauvin’s record as a police officer in Minneapolis was littered with allegations of misconduct and excessive force,” according to Business Insider

On April 20th, 2021, Chauvin sat in the courtroom before Judge Cahill, awaiting the verdict. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher declared that Floyd’s death was directly caused by Chauvin’s actions. Due to the weight pressed against Floyd’s neck, Schleicher argued that Floyd died of low oxygen levels that caused a brain injury, which caused his heart to stop. 

However, Chauvin’s defense, Eric Nelson, argued that there were many outside factors that would have influenced Floyd’s death at that moment, “including what it said was Floyd’s enlarged heart, fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system and possibly carbon monoxide from squad car exhaust,” according to NPR.

Regardless of Nelson’s defense, the jury dismissed the claim that Floyd died due to other health problems. Despite extenuating medical concerns, Chauvin still had his knee on Floyd’s neck for an unnecessary amount of time. 

The jury’s verdict consisted of three counts of murder. The first charge is unintentional second-degree murder. This charge indicates that Chauvin caused death without meaning to do so but still committed a felony offense in the process. The maximum sentence is 40 years. 

The second charge is third-degree murder, “the unintentional killing of another through an eminently dangerous act committed with a depraved mind and without regard for human life,” according to FindLaw. The maximum sentence is 25 years.

The third charge is second-degree manslaughter, which holds a maximum sentence of 10 years. This signifies Chauvin knowingly caused an invalid risk that could have led to the death of another individual. 

In total, for the murder of George Floyd, Chauvin faces the possibility of 75 years once he returns to the courtroom to face the judge in eight weeks.