Derek Chauvin Found Guilty on All Charges

WaPo (“Derek Chauvin convicted of murder, manslaughter in death of George Floyd“):

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day. He was immediately remanded into custody and will be sentenced in the coming weeks.

The jury announced its verdicts Tuesday afternoon, deliberating for less than a full day. Deliberations concluded after the prosecution and defense teams presented nearly six hours of closing arguments that focused on vastly different views about the circumstances that led to Floyd’s death in May outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis.

Chauvin found guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd

Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd for more than nine minutes on May 25, is now just the second police officer in Minnesota to ever be convicted of murder for an on-duty incident in the state.

When the verdict was announced by the Judge Peter A. Cahill, Chauvin looked on blankly from his chair.

Each murder charge for a person with no criminal history carries a presumptive prison sentence of 12.5 years, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines. The manslaughter charge for someone without a criminal record carries a presumptive prison sentence of four years.

While I had reservations about the second degree murder charge, fearing that it was a politically-driven overcharge, the jurors evidently unanimously believed the state proved the charges beyond reasonable doubt. I didn’t follow the day-to-day proceedings closely enough to have a strong opinion but most of those who I follow on Twitter, who granted were predisposed to favor conviction, thought the prosecution did an outstanding job.

My strong preference would have been for this trial to have been conducted outside the political and media circus that surrounded it and, in particular, that “George Floyd” not become a stand-in for all that’s wrong with the criminal justice system, policing, and the state of American race relations. But it’s hard to have much sympathy for a sworn peace officer who chokes a man to death for nine-plus minutes while in no personal danger.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Police
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Good.

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  2. mattbernius says:

    Fun fact, that, in the year of our Lord 2020, this is the *first time* in the STATE of Minnesota that a police officer has been found guilty of killing a Black person.

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  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Minneapolis will sleep well tonight.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius: But apparently only the second time one has been convicted of killing anyone.

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  5. EddieInCA says:

    A glass of Weller will be extra tasty tonight.

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  6. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    But apparently only the second time one has been convicted of killing anyone.

    Thanks! I had not seen that one, otherwise I would have included it.

    That is equally part of the broader issue around police accountability.

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  7. Kathy says:

    Of all the crime prevention theories out there, IMO the one that makes most sense is that crime is less likely if there is a high probability of arrest and conviction, regardless of how harsh the penalties are (provided they are not too lenient).

    This verdict, welcome as it is, won’t change anything by itself. We can hope it signals a willingness to hold police accountable for excessive/unnecessary force that results in grave harm. That’s the one thing that will keep police from resorting to deadly force so readily: high odds of being convicted for it.

    On the other hand, this was a particularly egregious case. Chauvin could have eased up a bit, enough to allow Mr. Floyd to catch his breath, while holding him secure. It’s what makes the videos of the incident so hard to watch: you know how it will end and how easily it could have been prevented.

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  8. steve says:

    Thought the second degree charge was iffy. Third degree and manslaughter definitely.

    Steve

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  9. Poteniall sentence is up to 40 years on prison

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  10. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Potential sentence is up to 40 years on prison

    If that’s based on “maximum allowed”, forget that number. It never happens (Popehat has had a lot to say on that, clarifying the “up to”). It’ll probably be closer to 15 or 20 (and then, only because it’s a highly publicized case).

    But… that’s the sentence. His actual life expectancy is probably a whole lot less.

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  11. Scott F. says:

    @Kathy:

    I’m feeling a great deal of relief, but a just little bit of hope that perhaps this verdict ‘it signals a willingness to hold police accountable for excessive/unnecessary force that results in grave harm.’ We’ve a long way to go to changing the norms of policing.

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  12. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    If Chauvin’s maximum sentence is 25-20, he’ll very likely be out in seven years.

    ReplyReply
  13. Mikey says:

    ABC News’ David Muir announced this news by saying it was “history making.”

    And while I am glad justice was actually served in this case, I had to think how terrible it is in America in 2021 that a police officer’s conviction in a case so obvious makes history. Surely it can’t be that unusual, can it?

    And then I came here and saw @mattbernius’ comment and wow, Chauvin’s conviction actually is history-making.

    Yes, justice was done. In this case. This one case. May it be a beginning, rather than an end, because we obviously have a very, very, very long way to go.

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  14. flat earth luddite says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    @CSK:
    Do you actually think he’d survive that long? Personally, I’d take odds on him dying before the first anniversary of his incarceration, unless he’s in strict solitary. And no inmates are involved in his meals or medical care.

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  15. CSK says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    I don’t know. I do know cops have a bad time of it in prison. Maybe he’ll be put in solitary.

    I keep thinking of a story told me by a cop about Massachusetts’s toughest prison, MCI-Cedar Junction. (Yeah, I know; it sounds like a time-share resort. Trust me. It’s not.) When a new prisoner is brought in, all the old cons line up and start singing “Here Comes the Bride.”

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  16. Gustopher says:

    I credit Maxine Waters for intimidating the jury, and forcing them to give us this result. Well done, Rep. Waters, the nation owes you a debt of gratitude.

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  17. Northerner says:

    @mattbernius:

    It’d be interesting to see the numbers for white people killed by Minnesota police and police found guilty vs the same numbers for black people. I suspect there’s more police convicted for white people killed, but it’ll still be a conviction rate of far less than 50%.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Depending on what you mean by “out”…

    “George Floyd” not become a stand-in for all that’s wrong with the criminal justice system, policing, and the state of American race relations.

    I don’t think there’s a problem on that front. There’s plenty wrong with the criminal justice system, policing, and the state of race relations in America to which “George Floyd” doesn’t even come close enough to wave at on the horizon.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Right now Derek Chauvin is scared to death and clinging to a single desperate hope: that Maxine Waters gave him grounds for appeal.

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  20. Slugger says:

    @Gustopher: What evidence is there of that? Do people in Minneapolis care what Maxine Waters says? Certainly, her comments were wrong and stupid, but I doubt that they are influential.

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  21. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Are you replying to me?

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  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    We shouldn’t be surprised that he ends up in a Federal Pen with a bunch of white collar criminals. he’d be relatively safe there.

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  23. dazedandconfused says:

    I take no pleasure in it. Reason being is IMO Chauvin is dumb, that he didn’t know he was killing Floyd. The cops around him and even his dispatcher tried to talk him off that position. Look at that stack of complains in his file for dumb things, and look at him trying to hide money from the IRS by depositing it in his bank account. Pretty stupid for anyone, but a cop??

    He might have had a fine life if he had chosen to be a plumber, maybe even an electrician, and had Floyd been arrested by 999 of 1000 officers he’s be alive today. Hell, he wouldn’t have been arrested by 998 of them. Passing a fake 20 can happen to anyone and the people that pass it are happy to cooperate for the most part. Only people who appear to have the ability to produce counterfeit cash or try to run get detained.

    Dumb.

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  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Just the first part. The second comment was about James’s quote from the article. Sorry for any confusion.

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  25. flat earth luddite says:

    @CSK:
    The only people who are more thoroughly hated in prisons than cops are pedophiles. Both die ugly deaths. Solitary is not likely to protect him, as inmates are responsible for preparing meals and delivering food, clothing, and limited medical treatment to inmates. Frankly, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he survives to be sentenced. “Suicide” is a real possibility.

    @Sleeping Dog:
    IMO, not unless feds try him on separate charges, and insist he do his time in a federal facility. I don’t think he has enough friends or vig to buy his way into that level of special treatment.

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  26. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Chauvin did this as a show of power to the people watching him. Had there been no audience for him to perform for–George Floyd would have lived.

    “What are you poor white trash and niggers going to do about this? Nothing. That’s what you’re going to do. I have the power. Me. You’re going to sit here and watch while I do exactly what I want–and you won’t do shit about it.”

    Hubris usually runs up a bill you can’t afford. Chauvin’s bill came due. Fuck him.

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  27. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    That sounds exactly like what was going through Chauvin’s mind.

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  28. Kylopod says:

    @Slugger:

    The judge overseeing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial in the death of George Floyd said Monday that Rep. Maxine Waters’ comments could be grounds for appealing a verdict.

    “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Judge Peter Cahill told defense attorney Eric Nelson on Monday.

    https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/19/politics/judge-derek-chauvin-maxine-waters-mistrial-appeal/index.html

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  29. flat earth luddite says:

    @CSK:
    Sounds about right. My personal memory is a line of about 400 dudes, screaming greetings to returning inmates they knew, and bidding on having us “fresh fish” delivered to their individual cells for dinner dates.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    He’s probably relatively safe in jail. Jail’s where they hold the innocent until proven. As a rule no one is looking for trouble in jail. Prison is a different deal entirely.

    Chauvin’s best shot is to hook up with whatever white gang holds sway in his prison – and in Minnesota, given the whiteness of the state, they’ll be running the prison. They may welcome him, or may decide once a cop always a cop. Or they may initially protect him then sell him out. Maybe he serves a useful function, corrupting white bulls or smuggling drugs. Or he lives the next 10+ years in isolation, which is a great way to lose your sanity.

    There’s no happy outcome for Chauvin, his past life is over, he’s someone’s bitch, someone’s servant, and that’s his best case.

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  31. Kathy says:

    @Scott F.:

    I’m more relieved than hopeful.

    I’m not happy, either. A man was killed, and another self-destructed, with all the damage this does to their families. And for what? Twenty dollars?

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  32. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Michael Reynolds: true dat!

    My experience is fortunately way past expiration date (except during traffic stops, interestingly enough), but the people I know from that world won’t trust him or protect him, and there’s too much heat on him to use him.

    40 years staring at a wall thinking about what a stupid f### he is? Works for me.

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  33. Teve says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    Look at that stack of complains in his file for dumb things, and look at him trying to hide money from the IRS by depositing it in his bank account. Pretty stupid for anyone, but a cop??

    He might have had a fine life if he had chosen to be a plumber, maybe even an electrician,

    I don’t know…220V is no joke.

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  34. Teve says:

    @piesaac

    Comic sans implies the existence of tragic sans

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  35. Teve says:

    Oops i thought this was the open thread. Durrrrr.

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  36. dazedandconfused says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Can’t go to a Fed prison, wasn’t convicted of a federal crime. He’s in the hands of the State, but nearly all states have min-security prison areas, in which everybody is either total white collar or has only a few months to serve, and thus damn careful not to do anything that would extend a sentence. That’s where they will put him.

    Corrections in general takes care of their celebrity inmates, they know the bad that happens to one gets in the press. Chauvin is highly unlikely to be placed within a level-four general pop.

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  37. mattbernius says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    My experience is fortunately way past expiration date (except during traffic stops, interestingly enough), but the people I know from that world won’t trust him or protect him, and there’s too much heat on him to use him.

    Sadly, that’s the fact of having a record. Even in States like PA where clean slate laws have been enacted for many misdemeanors, law enforcement almost always has access to “sealed” records. This means any time they run your plates, they’re going to get a hit.

    The only exception are the handful of states that fully destroy records.

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