The jury deliberated for about 10 hours, capping a trial that has become the latest bellwether on efforts to address police brutality and systemic racism in America. Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, was charged with murdering Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, by kneeling on his neck for nine and a half minutes last May.
The verdict will be read later on Tuesday, the court announced.
Prosecutors allege that Chauvin used excessive force, while Chauvin’s defence attorneys claim his actions were “reasonable,” blaming Floyd’s health conditions and the presence of drugs in his system for his death.
“You were told... that Mr Floyd died because his heart was too big,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said during his closing argument this week. “The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
Chauvin faces three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. If convicted of the more serious second-degree murder charge, he faces a presumptive sentence of 12.5 years, although prosecutors have argued for a more serious sentence, citing what they referred to as “particular cruelty” in the case (the maximum penalty is 40 years). The third-degree charge also carries a presumptive sentence of 12.5 years, per state sentencing guidelines.
The verdict could have sweeping repercussions throughout Minnesota and across the country. Minneapolis was bracing for protests prior to the jury’s decision and was facing renewed outcry following the police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop in the suburb of Brooklyn Center earlier this month.
Minnesota governor Tim Walz declared a “peacetime emergency” on Monday, which would allow the stated to draw on police forces from neighbouring states if needed.
“Local and state resources have been fully deployed, but they are inadequate to address the threat,” Walz wrote in his order. “Recent events in Brooklyn Center have exhausted Minnesota’s local and state resources and are likely to hamper our ability to provide public safety and protect critical infrastructure.”