- A jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of killing George Floyd in 2020.
- Chauvin was videotaped pushing his knee down Floyd’s knee for over nine minutes.
- Floyd’s death sparked nationwide and worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.
Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted on Tuesday of the murder of George Floyd, had a record of using excessive force before the defenseless black man died under his knee in a crime that prosecutors described as a “horrific abuse of authority.”
Chauvin, described by colleagues as rigid and silent, knelt on the neck of 46-year-old Floyd for more than nine minutes on Minneapolis Avenue on May 25 last year, despite the pleas of the dying man and those shocked bystanders who filmed the tragedy.
The killing reverberated across the United States and the world, and it set the stage for racial injustice in America.
The conviction amounts to one of the most important and important findings of the US court in decades.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said his client had “demonstrated calm and professional behavior” in his dealings with Floyd, and sought to convince a jury that the former white cop had only applied a licensed detention order consistent with his training.
But the prosecution has argued, successfully, that Chauvin used excessive force – not just with Floyd, but with others he had arrested during his 19-year career in force.
‘A shocking abuse of power’
During closing arguments on Monday, Attorney General Steve Schleicher described Chauvin’s actions as a “shocking abuse of power” against Floyd.
“This wasn’t police custody, it was murder,” said Schleicher.
Prosecutors called several police officers to testify about Chauvin’s excessive use of force against Floyd.
Among them was Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Aradundu, who said Chauvin’s actions violated the department’s training policies and “values.”
Chauvin, 44, had the opportunity to testify in his own defense, but he refused, citing his right to the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
He would attend every day of the trial, however, wearing a suit and often taking notes on a yellow legal paper
Barry Broad, a retired police officer and expert in the use of force, was among those who testified for the defense.
“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective rationality, by following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his dealings with Mr. Floyd,” Broad said.
The jury apparently disagreed.
After he was found guilty on all three counts – first-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter – Chauvin was handcuffed and taken outside the courtroom. He is now waiting for the verdict.
People who interacted with Chauvin over the years said he used more force than necessary in applying restrictive restraints.
Before the trial, the prosecution came up with several examples of its “modus operandi,” including the case of Zoya Cod, a young black woman arrested by Chauvin in 2017.
“Although the female was not physically resisting in any way, the prosecutor said, Chauvin knelt on her body, using his body weight to fix her on the ground.”
I told The Marshall Project recently: “It stayed on my neck.” Frustrated and upset, she challenged him to stress more. “Then he did. Just to shut me up,” she said.
André Palian, a kung fu coach who trained with Chauvin some 20 years ago, said there was “no way imaginable” Chauvin was not aware of the damage he caused or was able to do it in situations like the one in which he knelt on Floyd’s neck.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse in June, he referred to Chauvin as a “fool” standing idly by and looking around.
Since Floyd’s murder, few details have been filtered about Chauvin.
But former colleagues drew a silent, rigid, workaholic selfie, who often patrolled the city’s toughest neighborhoods.
His commitment to the job earned him four medals over the course of his career. But he also filed 22 internal complaints and investigations, according to a public record that was removed from all details.
Just one of the many complaints, made by a white woman who violently pulled her out of her car in 2007 for speeding, followed by a letter of reprimand.
On weeknights, Chauven worked long time in security at a nightclub, Nuevo Rodeo. There, too, his harsh methods left a bitter aftertaste.
Former club owner Maya Santamaría described him to reporters as a man who “had a real short fuse” and generously uses tear gas at the slightest provocation.
Chauvin was single at work, and he had a wife, a refugee from Laos, whom he married in 2010. Last May, Kelly Xing filed for divorce.
A court opened a tax fraud lawsuit against the couple, and in November a judge rejected a divorce settlement that called for all of their assets to be transferred to Xing.
This arrangement would have protected the funds if Chauvin had ordered large damages to be paid.
Last month, the city of Minneapolis settled a death lawsuit filed by the Floyd family, agreeing to pay his relatives $ 27 million for Chauvin’s murder.