SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In one of the most high-profile U.S. murder trials, the country waited anxiously for a jury to deliberate the verdict of charges against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was accused of killing George Floyd. After two days of discussion, the jury found Chauvin guilty Tuesday of all three murder charges against him.
The incident dates back to May 25 of last year when Chauvin and three other officers arrested Floyd on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a store. Security camera footage from a nearby business did not show Floyd resisting the arrest. However, the criminal complaint stated that based on body cam footage, Floyd allegedly resisted getting into the police car and fell to the ground face-down.
While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face-down on the street, Chauvin was filmed on video with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes before he died. Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe and witnesses could be heard on-camera yelling at Chauvin to get off. The case sparked violent demonstrations across the country and set off a furious re-examination of racism and policing in the U.S.
The day after, Chauvin and the other officers were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. His murder trial began on March 8 of this year. While knee-to-neck restraints are allowed under state law, prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s use-of-force was unreasonable and contrary to his police training. Chauvin’s defense attorney argued that Floyd died because of his drug use, medical history, and bad heart.
Three guests join ABC4’s Rick Aaron for an IN FOCUS discussion to share their thoughts and reactions to the verdict. The first guest is Jacarri Kelley, organizer of Northern Utah Black Lives Matter. The second guest is Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake Chapter. The third and final guest is LaShawn Williams, assistant professor of social work at Utah Valley University.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Kelley, Williams, and Williams, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.