HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd. Connecticut leaders and community members are now reacting to the verdict.
The trial began on March 8, 2021, and the verdict came down Tuesday afternoon. Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He has been taken into custody Tuesday until his sentencing, which should take place in about eight weeks. With three guilty verdicts, he could be facing up to 40 years in prison.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was declared dead after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd’s neck even though he was not resisting, using excessive force in violation of police training. An onlooker even identified herself as a firefighter and pleaded repeatedly to check Floyd’s pulse, but Chauvin continued to kneel.
The defense argued that Chauvin followed his training and his actions did not contribute to Floyd’s death. The defense also argued Floyd’s illegal drug use, heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenaline flowing through his body had caused his death.
Floyd’s death and the videos of it that circulated across the world sparked protests and civil unrest in Minneapolis and across the U.S. over police brutality, at points turning violent.
Tuesday, at a rally in support of the legalization of marijuana in Hartford, News 8 was there when attendees learned of the verdicts.
Al Mayo of Hartford exclaimed, “Guilty! Yes! Got him! Got him! He has been held accountable, this is what we have been waiting for, this is it, this is it right now!”
A member of Black Lives Matter, Mike Oretade, was emotional when he told reporters, “Thank you, God. This ain’t over, though. We should have never had to fight this hard. This ain’t even a win. We gonna take it, but we still gonna be in these streets. It shouldn’t have been this hard. We shouldn’t have had to fight this hard for justice.”
Bishop John Selders of Moral Monday CT said, “Our time now is to gather as faith leaders and pray and offer some support and comfort here in the greater community. We are going to be here to provide a sense of support…I don’t know what I’m feeling. There is a sense of relief that the jury came in, and here is one time that an officer of the law – a former officer of the law – has been let out of court in handcuffs and he’s going to jail.”
Keren Prescott of Power up CT relieved, “I am feeling a little less heavy. I am feeling a little more hopeful.”
Ivelisse Correa of Black Lives Matter 860: “This does not undo all of the other ‘not guiltys’, but it is a start, it is a start. So I am excited and whatever penalty they give him, it is still not good enough.”
Richard Oretade of Black Lives Matter added, “We are hurt, and we shouldn’t have to go so hard to get a verdict like this, and we should not have to, but we will keep going harder and harder we don’t give up and at the same time we are spreading peace and love at the end of the day, peace and love!”
While there is peace and love make no mistake about it, there is also anger and frustration.
WEB EXTRA: Scot X. Esdaile, President NAACP State Conference: Can healing begin? What were you feeling when the verdict came down?
WEB EXTRA: Mike Lawlor, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven: No real surprises here from the legal standpoint? What will you talk about in class with your students following this verdict?
“The real winner today is the ‘good cops,’ and there are no shortage of those,” Lawlor said.
WEB EXTRA: Attorney, former police officer Gregory Cerritelli: What are your thoughts from the legal standpoint?
“I think justice has been served,” he said. “Bodycam footage has been a game changer.”
Connecticut leaders and lawmakers also reaction to the verdicts.
Standing in front of a painting of Ruby Bridges, a civil rights activist, Governor Ned Lamont said, in part, “That verdict does not bring any comfort or sense of justice to the Floyd family or to any of us. And we’re shocked that this can happen over and over again in a country dedicated to the proposition that ‘all men are created equal with liberty and justice for all.’ And tomorrow we wake up and know that we have to do better and love one another.”
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) released the following statement after Tuesday’s verdict.
“Today’s verdict has released a flurry of emotions and a collective sigh. While there is much work to be done and so many conversations to be had, I reserve today for prayer. Today is a day for solemn prayer for healing for the Floyd family, the Black community, the people of Minnesota, the jury, members of the court and law enforcement. Today justice was articulated through accountability. Today is a moment of reflection for our entire country – tomorrow we resume the work and recommit ourselves towards building a more just nation.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement, “George Floyd should be alive today, and while nothing can undo the grave injustice of his murder, I join our community and millions of Americans in hoping that today’s decision brings his family and friends some solace, knowing that Derek Chauvin will be held accountable for his crime. Those of us in elected office must continue to stay committed to the work of strengthening relationships of trust and accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and that work is as urgent and important as ever.”
State Treasurer Shawn Wooden said, in part:
While today’s ruling will grant the Floyd family a small measure of the justice they deserve, it is an anomaly. For far too long, our justice system has offered inconsistent protections to the rampant killings of unarmed Black and Brown Americans by police officers.
As the father of two Black teenage young men, I have had the difficult but necessary “talk” about what to do in the event they are stopped by a police officer. It is a dreaded ritual for Black and Brown parents, but I never expected that my son, a runner, would ask if it was safe to jog while Black…The world didn’t need to hear today’s verdict to know that what happened to George Floyd was wrong. The video was so powerful that it sparked a national racial reckoning, something I often refer to as our modern-day “Emmett Till” moment.”
State Attorney General William Tong issued the following statement Tuesday regarding the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin:
“This trial may have given us accountability, but that is not the same thing as justice. There is no justice for George Floyd, who was murdered. There is no justice for his family, who lost George and the lives they used to know. There is no justice for the people of Minnesota and all across this nation, who must bear this pain and trauma. There is only the hard work ahead, to overcome the hate and racism that sentences families and entire communities to grief, tragedy, and unending loss.”