A jury has found a former police officer guilty of murder over the death of African-American George Floyd on a Minneapolis street last year.
Derek Chauvin, 45, was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during his arrest last May.
The widely watched footage sparked worldwide protests against racism and excessive use of force by police.
The verdict comes after a highly-charged, three-week trial that left the city on edge.
The 12-member jury panel took less than a day to reach their verdict on Tuesday.
One things is clear, the protesters are not satisfied with the degree of this charge as states across the country struggle to contain mass action that has often led to clashes with law enforcement officials.
In his 19-year career, Derek Chauvin had been the subject of 17 internal complaints, none of which resulted in any serious penalties. The accused was scheduled to appear in Hennepin County Court on Monday, but the hearing was postponed.
Combining the charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, he faces a maximum of 35 years in prison.
Derek Michael Chauvin born March 19, 1976) is an American former police officer who murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020.
During an arrest made by Chauvin and three other officers, he knelt on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed, lying face down on the street calling out “I can’t breathe”.
The next day, Chauvin was fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. He was charged with second-degree murder and lesser included offenses.
The incident set off a series of protests in the Twin Cities and across the rest of the United States, later spreading around the world. Chauvin was released on bail on October 7, 2020.
His murder trial began on March 8, 2021, and concluded on April 20, 2021, with the jury finding him guilty on all charges.
Early life and education
Chauvin was born on March 19, 1976. His mother was a housewife, and his father was a certified public accountant.
At the age of seven, his parents divorced and were granted joint custody of him.
Chauvin attended Park High School in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, but did not finish and later obtained a GED certificate.
He earned a certificate in quantity food preparation at Dakota County Technical College and worked jobs as a prep cook at McDonald’s and a south metro buffet restaurant.
He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1996 to 2004, including two stints in the military police between 1996 and 2000.
During that time, he also attended Inver Hills Community College from 1995 to 1999 and later transferred to Metropolitan State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement in 2006.
Chauvin joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 2001.
He received a medal for valor in 2006 for being one of several officers who fired on a suspect who pointed a shotgun at them, and another in 2008 for a domestic-violence incident in which he broke down a door and shot a suspect who reached for his pistol.
He received a commendation medal in 2008 after he and his partner tackled a fleeing suspect holding a pistol. He received a commendation medal in 2009 after working off-duty as a security guard for a nightclub.
Chauvin had 18 complaints on his official record, two of which ended in discipline, including official letters of reprimand.
He had been involved in three police shootings, one of which was fatal.
According to the former owner of El Nuevo Rodeo, a Latin nightclub, Chauvin had worked there off duty as security while George Floyd was also working as security, but was not certain whether they knew each other.
The owner has been critical of Chauvin since his arrest, describing Chauvin’s tactics as “overkill” and saying “Chauvin was unnecessarily aggressive on nights when the club had a black clientele, quelling fights by dousing the crowd with pepper spray and calling in several police squad cars as backup”.
The owner also said Chauvin responded to fights by spraying the crowd with mace instead of dealing with those who were fighting.
Tax evasion charges
On July 22, 2020, after the murder charges were brought against him, Chauvin and his wife were separately charged in Washington County, Minnesota, on multiple felony counts of tax evasion related to allegedly fraudulent state income tax returns from 2014 to 2019.
Prosecutors state the couple under-reported their joint income by $464,433, including more than $95,000 from Chauvin’s off-duty security work.
The complaint also alleges failure to pay proper sales tax on a $100,000 BMW purchased in Minnesota in 2018, failure to declare income from Chauvin’s wife’s business, and improper deductions on a rental home.
Chauvin’s ex-wife, a real estate agent and photographer, is a Hmong refugee from Laos who competed in a “Mrs. Minnesota” beauty pageant in 2018.
She filed for divorce the day before he was arrested for Floyd’s death, and it was approved in February 2021