Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began his first full day in state prison Wednesday after he was found guilty of murdering George Floyd in a landmark trial.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after Floyd’s death in police custody last May.
Tears of joy, relief and resolve to continue fighting for racial justice filled the streets of Minneapolis and around the nation after the verdict was read Tuesday afternoon.
Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, and in video footage of his death, Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. After the verdict was announced, his brother, Philonise Floyd, said, “Today we are able to breathe again.”
Yet even with a verdict, the legal proceedings in the case are far from over, with Chauvin’s sentencing a few weeks away and appeals looming.
Here’s what we know Wednesday:
How long will Derek Chauvin be in prison?
Chauvin had his bail revoked and was remanded into custody Tuesday immediately after the verdict was read. He was led out of the Hennepin County courtroom in handcuffs and booked into a Minnesota state prison at Oak Park Heights.
Chauvin was also placed in a segregated unit, called the administrative control unit, “used during pending investigations or when continued presence in the general population could pose a particular safety concern,” according to the Department of Corrections.
A sentencing hearing has not been held yet, but Chauvin faces a recommended 150 months or 12½ years in prison under sentencing guidelines for first-time offenders. But the prosecution is seeking a higher prison term due to “aggravating factors.” So he may face up to 30 years in prison though the judge may sentence him to less.
When is Derek Chauvin’s sentencing?
After reading the verdict, Judge Peter Cahill said a sentencing hearing would be held in about eight weeks.
What happened in Minneapolis, other cities after the verdict was read?
Cheers erupted in George Floyd Square as Cahill read the verdict. People cried, hugged and chanted Floyd’s name. Some tossed handfuls of dollar bills into the air.
The intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue – now known as George Floyd Square – has become a makeshift memorial to Floyd and a space for community healing after Floyd was killed at that location last May. On Tuesday, it was an epicenter of joyful disbelief.
Silence fell across the crowd outside Hennepin County courthouse as Cahill read the verdict. Then it erupted into cheers: “GUILTY!” they yelled. “All three!”
“This is so traumatic. We need a guilty verdict. We need to heal. We need to heal,” said Amber Young, 50.
Elsewhere, emotions ran the gamut when news broke. Celebrations and demonstrations occurred in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Portland, Oregon, and other cities.
What did Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi say about the verdict?
President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for a “moment of significant change” to fight systemic racism in policing.
“No one should be above the law, and today’s verdict sends that message,” Biden said in a speech from the White House. “But it’s not enough. It can’t stop here. In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen again.”
He also pushed for the Senate’s passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Earlier in the afternoon, Biden called the Floyd family. “I’m feeling better now,” Biden said Tuesday, his voice audible as the family’s attorney Ben Crump put the president on speaker for the family to hear. “There’s nothing that’s going to make it all better. But at least now there’s some justice.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, the nation’s first Black and female vice president, also called for more work to be done to fight racism and said, “A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice.”
“Here’s the truth about racial injustice. It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all,” she said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faced some criticism after she said, “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice.” Many took issue with Pelosi’s phrasing, noting that Floyd did not willingly “sacrifice” his life but rather was murdered.
What is the George Floyd policing act?
The House passed the the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – named in Floyd’s honor – in March. It has not passed the Senate.
The bill seeks to bolster police accountability and prevent problem officers from moving from one department to another by creating a national registry to track those with checkered records.
It also would end certain police practices that have been under scrutiny after the deaths of Black Americans in the last year, including prohibiting profiling based on race and religion and banning chokeholds, carotid holds, and no-knock warrants.
The bill would also require the use of federal funds to ensure use of body cameras, amend the prosecution standard for police from “willfulness” to “recklessness,” and reform qualified immunity.
What happened to the other officers involved in George Floyd’s death?
Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao all face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Their joint trial begins in late August.
Contributing: Eric Ferkenhoff, Tami Abdollah, Kevin McCoy, N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Trevor Hughes, Joey Garrison, Savannah Behrmann and Grace Hauck, USA TODAY.
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