Utah leaders speak out following Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A verdict was reached in the trial of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged for the death of George Floyd.

Floyd was killed in May 2020 after Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”

On Tuesday, a jury convicted 45-year-old Chauvin on all charges, including second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Officials say the most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison.

The jury included six white people and six people who are Black or multiracial.

Officials and organizations around Utah have released statements following the verdict.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson issued a statement saying:

“My thoughts are with the friends and family of George Floyd and the nation as a whole. After having the opportunity to observe much of the Derek Chauvin trial, I am pleased with the results of the jury. It’s clear that George Floyd was murdered without remorse. Our nation has skilled and committed police officers but also those that operate in their roles with bias and without regard for human life and liberty. There needs to be accountability. As a community, I ask that we work collaboratively to address systemic issues regarding race and justice as we seek to reshape our institutions in order to promote accountability and justice.”

The Utah Democratic Party said in their statement:

“Our judiciary has today reached a just decision, and held George Floyd’s murderer accountable. This verdict is accountability, but not justice — not yet. Our work as a party and as members of the greater movement for Black lives continues, and our work to dismantle the systems that allowed for this tragedy to occur in the first place must not stop today.

“As a state rocked like so many others by the protests and raw emotions of summer 2020, and as people who watched in horror for nine minutes and 29 seconds, we are relieved by the verdict: rightfully guilty on all counts.

“It is our commitment to the people of Utah and of this nation that we stop the injustices that led to the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, as well as so many others across the nation and closer to home. The work before us is large, difficult, and requires reconciliation with failures of systems that many of us hold close to our hearts. Still, it must be done, and Utah Democrats stand committed to demanding the changes that must be made, in solidarity with all the victims of police violence and brutality in this nation and our state.”

Representative Burgess Owens said in a tweet, “Today, justice was served in the senseless killing of George Floyd. I am praying for peace and healing in Minnesota and across the nation as we the people unite to build bridges for positive change.”

Utah Jazz officials also tweeted saying, “our hearts are with the George Floyd Family today. his murder, among too many examples of senseless killings, systematic racism and injustice, has only heightened the urgency to peacefully and emphatically work towards creating sustainable and meaningful change. The work ahead of us remains clear, Our resolve is strong, and our actions must be even stronger.”

The Utah Department of safety emphasized their commitment to “humanity, justice, and equity for everyone within the state’s borders.” they added, “We honor the inalienable rights of the people and the rights that DPS officials are constitutionally sworn to protect.”

“Over the past year, we have worked to build important relationships with stakeholders in the police reform movement spurred by Floyd’s death. Our outreach within the multicultural, social justice reform and religious communities in our state has led to numerous codified reforms, both in policy and law, to which law enforcement officers statewide are now held accountable.

We worked quickly with the Utah Legislature in June 2020 on legislation banning knee-on-neck and other chokeholds by Utah law enforcement officers.

Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), working with the Utah Legislature, has updated and is updating its curriculum to include more training for vetted and legal arrest control techniques, crisis intervention training, modern mental health awareness, and updated de-escalation techniques.

We are committed to future reform efforts, including transparency, training, accountability, punishment of officer misconduct, community engagement, fairness, and social justice.

We join Governor Cox in urging Utahns who plan to respond to the verdict to do so within the bounds guaranteed by the First Amendment. We will respect personal safety, life, and property. Any threats against such will not be tolerated.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall said in a tweet, “The work toward a more just Salt Lake City began in the days and weeks following the death of George Floyd last year. Today we remain committed, and we will move forward by continuing our pursuit of becoming a more just and equitable City for all of our residents.

I was proud to stand today with our Commission on Racial Equity in Policing Commissioners who have dedicated themselves to this work over the last year. I’m looking forward to moving ahead together. There can be no justice without accountability.”

Representative Chris Stewart Remarked, “Today, America’s judicial system worked and justice was done for George Floyd. The verdict is an important step in the right direction, but there is still work to be done. I pray that all Americans build on this progress in creating a better tomorrow for everyone.”

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