George Floyd: Former officer Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder

20 April 2021, 22:07 | Updated: 20 April 2021, 22:23

A verdict has been reached in the Derek Chauvin trial
A verdict has been reached in the Derek Chauvin trial. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Derek Chauvin, the white ex-police officer who was filmed pinning George Floyd to the ground with his knee, has been found guilty of second degree murder.

The case drew global attention after Mr Floyd's death prompted protests across the world.

It brought renewed focus on how police interact with communities they serve and racial inequalities, sparking emotions ranging from fury to distress.

Chauvin, 45, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with the racially diverse jury asked to conclude if Chauvin's actions were a "substantial causal factor" in Mr Floyd's death.

His trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has drawn global audiences and left the city on edge with the possibility of repeats of the demonstrations and anger that erupted after Mr Floyd's death last year.

For the latest reaction to the Derek Chauvin verdict listen live on Global Player

Read more: Jurors shown video of George Floyd gasping for breath during trial

The trial heard from experts in the police as the prosecution told jurors that 45-year-old Chauvin squeezed the life out of the man he was supposed to be restraining in May last year.

The prosecution said Mr Floyd was "just a man, lying on the pavement, being pressed upon, desperately crying out".

"A grown man crying out for his mother. A human being," prosecutor Steve Schleicher told the court.

Read more: Kneeling on George Floyd's neck 'totally unnecessary', officer tells court

Read more: George Floyd died from lack of oxygen after being pinned down, expert tells Chauvin trial

The prosecution said the now-fired officer's actions were reckless and unreasonable.

His defence said Mr Floyd put himself at risk by using fentanyl and methamphetamine and then resisted officers as they tried to arrest him.

Jurors were told those actions, combined with his heart disease, led to his death.

Chauvin's lawyers also referred to a 2019 incident between Mr Floyd and police, in which he suffered dangerously high blood pressure and confessed to using opioid painkillers.

Chauvin, right, denied murder
Chauvin, right, denied murder. Picture: PA

During the trial, jurors sat through footage of Mr Floyd gasping for breath and pleading with officers not to shoot him as they detained him.

They heard from experts on restraint and medicine during three weeks of testimony.

The jury's deliberations got under way with the courthouse surrounded by concrete barriers and razor wire, with the city patrolled by the National Guard.

The trial took place as a 20-year-old black man, Daunte Wright, was shot by police during a traffic stop in Minnesota, sparking fresh outrage.

Protesters have demonstrated over the killing outside, while President Joe Biden reportedly called Mr Floyd's family to say they were in his prayers.