Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
20 April 2021updated 23 Jul 2021 5:31am

George Floyd’s killer found guilty of murder

It took less than a day for the jury to convict Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed Floyd and sparked a summer of protests. 

By Emily Tamkin

A jury found Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last spring, guilty of murder in the second degree, murder in the third degree and manslaughter in the second degree on 20 April.

Chauvin, a use-of-force expert testified earlier this month, had his knee on Floyd’s neck area for the entirety of the nine and a half minutes that Floyd lay face down with his hands cuffed. Floyd’s death was filmed.

The police were called after Floyd used what appeared to be a counterfeit $20 bill. The store clerk who took the bill testified in March that he thought, as Floyd died, “If I would have just not took the bill, this could have been avoided.”

The case was taken over by the Minnesota state attorney general Keith Ellison last June after Minneapolis legislators said they did not have confidence in the local prosecutors.

The verdict was reached less than a day after the jury – comprised of six white people, four black people, and two people who identify as multiracial – was sequestered for deliberations. According to reports, the jury did not ask a single question. Earlier on Tuesday (20 April), President Joe Biden described the evidence as “overwhelming” and said he was “praying that the verdict is the right verdict”.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

The prosecution argued that Chauvin’s use of force was not necessary. The defence attorney, Eric Nelson, tried to make the argument that “a reasonable police officer” would understand what Chauvin did. Nelson also called for a mistrial, citing the California Representative Maxine Waters’ call for protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if there was no guilty verdict. The judge acknowledged that Waters “may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned” but denied the motion for a mistrial.

Content from our partners
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes
Why competition is the key to customer satisfaction

Floyd’s death sparked a summer of protests last year in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Even so, while the trial was being held a man named Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a police officer about ten miles away; Wright had reportedly been pulled over for having an expired registration. Floyd’s former girlfriend, it turned out, taught Wright in high school.