Derek Chauvin Trial: Chauvin Found Guilty of Murdering George Floyd
Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The death of Mr. Floyd spurred the largest civil rights protests in decades.
Members of the jury, I will now read the verdicts as they will appear in the permanent records of the Fourth Judicial District: State of Minnesota, County of Hennepin District Court, Fourth Judicial District, state of Minnesota, plaintiff versus Derrick Michael Chauvin, defendant, verdict Count 1, court file No. 27, CR-2012646. We, the jury, in the above entitled matter as to Count 1, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty. We, the jury, in the above entitled matter as to Count 2, third-degree murder, perpetrating an eminently dangerous act, find the defendant guilty. We, the jury, in the above entitled matter as to Count 3, second-degree manslaughter, culpable negligence, creating an unreasonable risk, find the defendant guilty. Bail is revoked, bond is discharged, and the defendant is remanded to the custody of the Hennepin County sheriff. We’re adjourned.
When George Floyd was killed by the police in Minneapolis last May, the case drew comparisons to the death of Eric Garner six years earlier in New York.
The two men uttered the same dying words to the police officers forcefully restraining them: “I can’t breathe.”
But in Mr. Garner’s case, none of the officers who pinned him on a Staten Island sidewalk and placed him in a banned chokehold ever faced criminal charges. On Tuesday, Mr. Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said she was glad to hear that Derek Chauvin had been convicted of murdering Mr. Floyd.
“I am elated because, finally, we did get some justice,” Ms. Carr said at a news conference in Manhattan after the verdict was announced in Minnesota.
A grand jury found that the officer who had placed Mr. Garner in the chokehold in July 2014 had not committed a crime. Federal prosecutors declined to bring civil rights charges. And it took the New York Police Department five years to fire the officer, Daniel Pantaleo. Only one other officer, Sergeant Kizzy Adonis, was disciplined.
Ms. Carr has spent the last six years speaking out against police misconduct. She stood beside Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2015 when he signed an executive order assigning a special prosecutor to investigate police killings of people who were unarmed. And she pushed for the successful repeal of a law shielding police disciplinary records. The police and city lawyers had invoked it to block her attempts to learn more about the case and the officers involved.
Ms. Carr attended Mr. Chauvin’s murder trial and watched parts of it on television, but she said some moments were too intense to watch. She said she spoke with Mr. Floyd’s family on Saturday, prayed for them and told them to expect a positive outcome.
About 20 minutes before the guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial was announced in Minneapolis, a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, was shot and killed by the police there.
The girl, who has not been identified by officials, appears to be the latest person killed in a police encounter while much of the public attention was on Minneapolis, where Mr. Chauvin faced charges for killing George Floyd last year in a case that touched off widespread protests against police brutality.
Last Sunday, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old motorist, was shot and killed by the police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., about 10 miles from Minneapolis.
The Columbus Division of Police did not immediately provide details about the shooting, which was confirmed on Twitter by the city’s mayor, Andrew J. Ginther, who said there was police body camera footage of the confrontation. He urged residents to keep the peace as protesters descended on the scene.
“This afternoon a young woman tragically lost her life,” Mr. Ginther said. “We do not know all of the details. There is body-worn camera footage of the incident. We are working to review it as soon as possible.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported that police had been responding to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing when the shooting took place around 4:45 p.m. in the southeastern part of Columbus.
A woman interviewed by The Dispatch identified the victim, who was Black, as her 15-year-old niece. The woman, Hazel Bryant, told the newspaper that her niece lived in a foster home and got into an altercation with someone else at the home.
Ms. Bryant said her niece had a knife, but maintained that the girl had dropped the knife before she was shot multiple times by a police officer, the newspaper reported.
By Tuesday night, a crowd of protesters had gathered outside the city’s police building, local news media reported.
“ACCOUNTABILITY,” the N.B.A.’s top star, LeBron James, said in a one-word post on Twitter after Mr. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
After Mr. Floyd’s murder last May, as well as the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black victims of violence, athletes spent much of last year engaged in numerous activist efforts around issues of racial justice and voting rights.
Some hit the streets to join the protests that sprang up around the country following Mr. Floyd’s murder, even as games had been halted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Others kept their attention on Mr. Chauvin’s case and other examples of police violence as competitions resumed, with statements, public displays and other forms of protest. Soon, leagues themselves began to express corporate solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and broad themes of fighting racism and systemic inequities.
“I was going to make a celebratory tweet but then I was hit with sadness because we are celebrating something that is clear as day,” the tennis star Naomi Osaka said of the Chauvin verdict. Ms. Osaka prompted a tournament to halt play when she planned to drop out in solidarity with the Milwaukee Bucks and other athletes who did not play after Jacob Blake was shot by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis. “The fact that so many injustices occurred to make us hold our breath toward this outcome is really telling.”
Several clubs based in Minnesota expressed sympathy for Mr. Floyd’s family.
Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves star who also joined protests after Mr. Floyd’s death, said in a Twitter post; “Justice and Accountability! Things I never thought I would see. There’s much more work to do, but this is an amazing start working toward the reform this country NEEDS!”
At least one effort to respond to the verdict, that of the N.F.L.’s Las Vegas Raiders, fell flat and was met with derision and anger. The team posted an image to Twitter with the words, “I CAN BREATHE” and Tuesday’s date, a reference to some of Mr. Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe.”
As thousands of commenters noted, Mr. Floyd is still dead, and police officers are still killing Black people — including one, a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, right around the time the verdict was being read.
Late Tuesday, Mark Davis, the owner of the Raiders, told The Athletic he was responsible for the post and said the words were in reference to Floyd’s brother Philonese Floyd, who said at a news conference after the verdict that “today, we are able to breathe again.”
- MinneapolisVictor J. Blue for The New York Times
- MinneapolisVictor J. Blue for The New York Times
- MinneapolisVictor J. Blue for The New York Times
- Washington, D.C.Kenny Holston for The New York Times
- MinneapolisAmr Alfiky/The New York Times
- New YorkSimbarashe Cha for The New York Times
- HoustonAnnie Mulligan for The New York Times
- MinneapolisAmr Alfiky/The New York Times
People in Minneapolis and other cities gathered in reaction to the verdict on Tuesday, describing it as a legal and symbolic victory honoring the life of George Floyd.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s initial inaccurate and misleading description of George Floyd’s death last May “might have become the official account” of what took place, had it not been for video taken by a teenage bystander, Keith Boykin, a CNN commentator, wrote on Twitter.
The video, taken by Darnella Frazier, emerged the night of Mr. Floyd’s death and drove much of the public’s understanding of what took place. Chief Medaria Arradondo of the police department testified at Mr. Chauvin’s trial that within hours of Mr. Floyd’s death he received a text from a local resident telling him about the video.
Later, Chief Arradondo, who testified as a witness for the prosecution at Mr. Chauvin’s trial, praised Ms. Frazier for her actions.VideoTRANSCRIPT0:00/14:23
From Rodney King to George Floyd: Reliving the Scars of Police Violence
The murder trial of Derek Chauvin is at the center of a national reckoning on race and policing. But cycles of protests over systemic racism and policing are not new. We watched the trial with the families of Rodney King, Oscar Grant and Stephon Clark to see this moment in history through their eyes.
“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.”14:23The murder trial of Derek Chauvin is at the center of a national reckoning on race and policing. But cycles of protests over systemic racism and policing are not new. We watched the trial with the families of Rodney King, Oscar Grant and Stephon Clark to see this moment in history through their eyes.
After the guilty verdict was announced Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Boykin and others on social media recirculated the police department’s initial account of events. To many, it was further reason not to place full trust in the narratives offered by police officials, and underscored the need for independent video of police actions.
The initial news release, posted on the police department’s website, is titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.” It said Mr. Floyd, who was not identified by name, “physically resisted officers” on the scene who had ordered him out of his vehicle. “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” the release said.
The officers called for an ambulance and Mr. Floyd was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died, it said.
Then, in a separate one-sentence paragraph, the department said, “At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.”
State officials were investigating the episode and body cameras had been activated, the release said. It also noted, “No officers were injured in the incident.”
Ms. Frazier’s video helped shatter that narrative, and showed Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Police officials from major cities across the country, who usually support each other especially in times of crises, welcomed the verdict against a former member of their ranks.
Commissioner Dermot Shea of the New York Police Department, by far the largest in the country, said on Twitter, “Justice has been served.” Superintendent Shaun Ferguson of the New Orleans Police Department said the verdict “is justice delivered.”
Chief Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department said, “Sometimes justice takes a little while, but it’s going to get there.” He added, “If there is anybody in the city who wants to celebrate, we are going to be there with you.” But, he said, “Do it the right way.”
In Seattle, the police department said, “Mr. Floyd’s murder was a watershed moment for this country” and added: “From that pain, though, real change has begun.”
And in Oakland, Calif., the police department called for people to be “compassionate, empathic, and forgiving.” It also said, “Together we will work towards rethinking policing in America.”
Last year, Ray Kelly, who retired in 2013 after serving 12 years as the New York City police commissioner, told The Wall Street Journal, “This is the worst act of police brutality that I’ve seen.”
“Let’s pause for a moment. To proclaim this historical moment, not just for the legacy of George Floyd, but for the legacy of America. The legacy of trying to make America for all Americans. So that George Floyd’s victory and America’s quest for equal justice under the law would be intertwined.” “I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity for hopefully getting some sleep. A lot of days that I pray and I hope and I was speaking everything into existence. I said, I have faith that he will be convicted. I’m going to put up a fight every day because I’m not just fighting for George anymore. I’m fighting for everybody around this world.” “I’m grateful. My brother’s not here. I’m grateful and I’m proud of him. I would salute him at — every day of my life, I would salute him. Because he showed me how to be strong. He showed me how to be respectful. He showed me how to speak my mind. I’m going to miss him, but now I know he’s in history.” “And thank you people for the love in the streets. I’m thanking everyone, because we couldn’t have did this. And this is a victory for all of us. There’s no color boundary on this. This is for everyone who’s been held down, pinned down. And you know what, people? We standing together in unity.
Floyd Family Reacts to Guilty Verdict
Relatives of George Floyd, the Black man killed by the former police officer Derek Chauvin, spoke out after Mr. Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter.CreditCredit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times
Following the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, friends and family of George Floyd tearfully thanked the many lawyers, bystanders, jurors and protesters who they said helped to bring justice.
“Today, the tears are pure joy,” Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Mr. Floyd’s family, said at a Hilton hotel in downtown Minneapolis. “Pure joy and pure shock, because days like this don’t happen.”
Though the family celebrated the trial’s outcome, they noted that police violence against Black Americans persists, and that their fight is not over.
Philonise Floyd, one of Mr. Floyd’s younger brothers, drew a line from his brother back to Emmett Till, a Black child who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, and whom he called “the first George Floyd.” He also noted the recent fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was killed just a few miles from the courtroom where Mr. Chauvin was on trial.
“We ought to always understand that we have to march,” he said. “We will have to do this for life. We have to protest, because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle.”
Other family members called for broader police reform and for the passage of federal legislation that would increase law enforcement accountability and eliminate discriminatory policing practices.
“We can’t bring him back,” said Tera Brown, one of Mr. Floyd’s cousins, “but we can save lives. And we want the actual reform that’s going to not only give us the change we want but make sure not another family has to suffer what we’ve suffered.”
Mr. Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd recalled him as the person who taught him to be strong, to be respectful and to speak his mind, and said he will salute him every day.
“I will miss him, but now I know he’s in history,” he said.
Rema Miller took a celebratory puff on Tuesday outside a cigar store in Atlanta, about a block from Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once served as pastor. She had followed the trial of Derek Chauvin closely, right down to the moment the jury announced that it had found the former police officer guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.
“I honestly feel some type of relief, because we’ve been carrying a lot,” said Ms. Miller, 49, a retired juvenile counselor. “As Black people, we’ve been carrying these 29, 30 deaths that have happened at the hands of police officers.”
“We’ve got this new thing, where she don’t know her Taser from her gun,” she added, referring to the recent police killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn. “And you know, you’re carrying all of them, and we’re talking about it, and we felt like history was going to repeat itself. He was going to get convicted of the lesser charge. And so we’ve prepared ourselves for that.”
As she watched the trial, Ms. Miller said, she thought about her brother. If an officer had treated him like George Floyd, she said, “I know I would have been burying my brother.”
She was not the only person for whom the verdict on Tuesday felt deeply personal.
For Black people, said Eliyah Revell, 22, a security guard in Atlanta, the attack on Mr. Floyd by a white officer felt like “an attack on everybody.”
Mr. Revell, wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying an assault-style rifle, said he had been to a number of social justice protests in recent months. He knew the smell of tear gas.
“We as a Black community have seen ourselves beat down so much,” he said. “So to see a small change start, it’s the beginning of something that hopefully is going to be great. I think a lot of people will have more hope.”
In Jacksonville, Fla., Moné Holder awaited the verdict on the edge of her seat, refreshing her phone and praying. She said she had not been able to bring herself to watch the trial, or even the full video of Mr. Floyd’s death.
“My heart couldn’t take it,” she said. “I have uncles, cousins, family members, a son — that could have been them. The images that I did see are still stuck in my head.”
As she sat reading the news on Tuesday, Ms. Holder said, her son turned to her.
“He told me, ‘Oh, I remember that!’” she said. “‘A Black man died. A police officer killed him.’”
Her son is 7 years old.
‘Today’s Verdict Is a Step Forward,’ Biden Says
President Biden on Tuesday praised the guilty verdict in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, calling the killing “a murder in full light of day.”
A jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May. It was a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see. There is systemic racism — it’s a stain on our nation’s soul — the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans; profound fear and trauma; the pain, the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day. I also spoke with George Floyd’s family again — remarkable family of extraordinary courage. Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back. But this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America. “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Those were George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.
‘Today’s Verdict Is a Step Forward,’ Biden Says
President Biden on Tuesday praised the guilty verdict in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, calling the killing “a murder in full light of day.”CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Biden praised a guilty verdict in the murder trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin, but called it a “too rare” step to deliver “basic accountability” for Black Americans who have been killed during interactions with the police.
“It was a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see,” Mr. Biden said of the death of George Floyd, who died after Mr. Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, and whose death ignited nationwide protests. “For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver just basic accountability.”
Mr. Biden delivered his remarks to the nation hours after taking the unusual step of weighing in on the trial’s outcome before the jury had come back with a decision, and telling reporters that he had been “praying” for the “right verdict.”
“This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” Mr. Biden said during his address.
Mr. Biden assumed the presidency during a national reckoning over race and has staked his political legacy around a promise to make racial equality, which includes an overhaul on policing, a central focus of his presidency. He has been outspoken about Mr. Floyd’s death, calling it a “wake up call” for the nation.
In the wake of a series of recent police-involved shootings and other violent episodes that have taken place over the course of the trial, he has repeatedly called for Congress to pass an ambitious bill on policing reform, named for Mr. Floyd and co-authored by the vice president.
On Tuesday afternoon, the White House canceled an earlier speech Mr. Biden had planned to deliver on his infrastructure plan so that he could watch the verdict come in alongside Kamala Harris, the vice president, and a group of other aides in his private dining room just off the Oval Office.
The jury’s deliberations had been closely tracked throughout the day: In the minutes before the verdict was delivered, White House aides were sprinting through the West Wing, phones in hand, and setting up a podium for Mr. Biden to deliver his remarks alongside Ms. Harris in Cross Hall. Just after the verdict was delivered the president was on the phone with members of Mr. Floyd’s family.
WATCH: “We’re all so relieved,” says Biden on a phone call to George Floyd’s family and their attorney after a jury convicted Derek Chauvin on all counts in Floyd’s murder https://t.co/YggflhSJK3 pic.twitter.com/2LqhHZzImo— Bloomberg (@business) April 20, 2021
“We’re all so relieved,” Mr. Biden said to a group of people who included Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney. “I’m anxious to see you guys, I really am. We’re gonna do a lot and we’re gonna stand until we get it done.
Ms. Harris, who spoke before Mr. Biden gave remarks, called for the passage of the bill that would overhaul how police officers engage people in minority communities.
“Here’s the truth about racial injustice,” Ms Harris said. “It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all, and it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.”
Mr. Biden can trace his political success, in part, to how he responded to the nationwide protests that rose up in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death.
Last June, as his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, stoked tensions by tweet, calling the protests a result of the “radical left” and threatening to send in the National Guard, Mr. Biden traveled to Houston with his wife, Jill, to meet with Mr. Floyd’s relatives.
The hour he spent with the Floyd family effectively created a split-screen with Mr. Trump that boosted his war chest and added momentum to his campaign.
“I won’t fan the flames of hate,” Mr. Biden said at the time. “I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.”