Derek Chauvin guilty in death of George Floyd

By Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 12:06 AM ET, Wed April 21, 2021
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10:50 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Rev. Jesse Jackson: "It's a relief, but the celebration is premature"

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson. CNN

Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson said the verdict reached in Derek Chauvin's trial is "significant" but more is needed to stop police killings.

“It’s a relief, but the celebration is premature,” Jackson told CNN's Sara Sidner near the Cup Foods where George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020. “We still have a lot of work to do. This is a first down, not a touchdown.”

Jackson specifically referenced Daunte Wright, a Black man who was shot and killed by police about 10 miles away from where Floyd died.

“We’re going to bury Daunte Thursday, the killing continues. We must break the backbone of legal lynching forever. Police killing people is getting away with legal lynching,” Jackson said.
10:29 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

"This is the beginning for the future of Black America," George Floyd's friend says

Maurice Lester Hall was with George Floyd in his car during the arrest that led to his murder.
Maurice Lester Hall was with George Floyd in his car during the arrest that led to his murder. CNN

Maurice Lester Hall, a friend of George Floyd's who witnessed the murder, said he believed the verdict in Derek Chauvin's trial will mark a major turning point in the United States.

"This is the beginning for the future of Black America," he told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

Hall, who declined a defense request to stand as their witness, said he chose to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights and not testify in the trial because he didn’t want to become a distraction.

"The defense ain't on my side, so for calling me ... it was useless, them calling me," he said. "I know this is a historical moment, so I'll have the chance of telling my story instead of it being narrated and scripted the way they want to paint it."

Hall also said he will speak with his lawyers before deciding whether to testify in the upcoming trials for the officers who were with Chauvin that day.

"Big" Floyd: Hall said his friend's nickname, "Big Floyd," was fitting because he "always thought he was legendary."

Hall said if Floyd were alive today, he would have embraced his name recognition.

"He comes from a hip-hop culture in Houston," Hall explained. "He carried himself as if he was an athlete, a superstar."

Watch the interview:

10:08 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Witness to Floyd's killing says he was just "telling the truth" during his testimony

Donald Williams, one of the witnesses to George Floyd's murder, said the decision reached by the jury to convict former police officer Derek Chauvin "means a lot" to him and his family.

"This is a big accomplishment," he told CNN's Chris Cuomo. "A lot of weight has been lifted off my shoulders."

Williams, who testified for the prosecution during the trial, said he wasn't sure if he expected a guilty verdict in the case. He likened testifying to taking part in a "championship fight."

"I just kept telling myself to stay mentally focused," he said. "All I was just doing was telling the truth."

Williams said now the verdict has been reached, he hopes he can help make the world a more just place for his children and other Black Americans.

Watch the moment:

9:42 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Sports world reacts to the Chauvin verdict

Major figures in the sports world are weighing in on the jury's decision to convict former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on all charges for killing George Floyd.

All four US major men's professional sports leagues or their leaders issued statements. So did Minnesota's professional teams.

The NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA's Lynx said in a joint statement they were "hopeful that today's decision will serve as a step forward."

The Timberwolves' star center, Karl-Anthony Towns, said the verdict was something he "never thought he would see."

Read the statements from Minnesota's teams:

Outside Minnesota: Prominent Black athletes from around the world also praised the verdict. Basketball star LeBron James, a vocal advocate for voting rights and social justice in the United States, simply said "ACCOUNTABILITY."

Bubba Wallace -- the only Black driver in NASCAR's top circuit -- said "justice served on all accounts. Good."

9:06 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Derek Chauvin was convicted in the murder of George Floyd. Here's what you need to know.

Pool
Pool

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, has been convicted on all charges in the death of George Floyd.

Crowds of people have gathered in Minneapolis and across the country following today's verdict. Here's what you need to know.

What it was like in the courtroom

The courtroom was silent as the verdict was read, pool reporters inside said. Chauvin appeared to be in a daze while waiting for the jury to arrive and was staring at the empty jury seating area. He snapped out of it after a few seconds when his attorney, Eric Nelson, spoke with him.

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, waited for the verdict in the courtroom with his head bowed and hands clasped. He appeared to alternate between praying, looking up towards Chauvin, and looking down praying again. As the first guilty verdict was read, his hands began shaking while clasped.

Reaction

  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the "verdict is an important step forward for justice," but there is still work left to do. He called for a continued "march for justice" and said the only way the state will change is "through systemic reform."
  • Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said he would "not call today's verdict justice," but did say that it is "accountability."
  • Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey commended the jury and said they "refused to look away" and affirmed that Floyd "should still be here today."
  • Former President Barack Obama said "the jury did the right thing," adding "we cannot rest."
  • Floyd family attorney Ben Crump reflected on the significance of the decision at a news conference after the verdict saying, "We frame this moment for all of us, not just for George Floyd. This is a victory for those who champion humanity over inhumanity, those who champion justice over injustice, those who champion morals over immorality. America, let's lean into this moment."
  • Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden addressed the country calling the verdict a "giant step forward in the march towards justice in America." The President said he talked to Floyd's daughter and told her, "daddy did change the world."

Floyd's family

  • Floyd's girlfriend Courteney Ross told reporters outside the courthouse that she hadn’t doubted this would be the outcome reached and that it was a "huge day for the world."
  • Philonise Floyd choked back tears as he responded to the guilty verdict, saying his work fighting for justice had only just begun. 
  • George Floyd's nephew, Brandon Williams, called the guilty verdict a "pivotal moment for America," adding that it was long overdue and hopefully a spark for systemic change.

What's next

After Judge Peter Cahill read and confirmed the verdict with the jury, he announced technical next steps, including scheduling sentencing in eight weeks time.

Cahill said the court would look at written arguments from Chauvin "within one week" and issue factual findings on it. Then they will order a pre-sentencing investigation report, "returnable in four weeks." That will be followed by a briefing on the pre-sentencing investigation report six weeks from now.

The sentencing

The maximum sentence for second-degree unintentional murder is imprisonment of not more than 40 years. The maximum sentence for third-degree murder is imprisonment of not more than 25 years. The maximum sentence for second-degree manslaughter is 10 years and/or $20,000.

8:42 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Derek Chauvin transferred to Minnesota correctional facility

From CNN's Eric Fiegel in Minneapolis

Derek Chauvin has been transferred to the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights, according to Minnesota Department of Corrections spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald.

Chauvin arrived at the facility at 4:55 p.m. CT (5:55 pm. ET). He is there through an agreement between the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Fitzgerald told CNN. 

The correctional facility is located in Stillwater, Minnesota, about 25 miles east of downtown Minneapolis. Fitzgerald added that a new booking photo of Chauvin will be available Wednesday.

8:32 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

US Capitol police are no longer planning to reinstall fencing

From CNN's Katie Bo Williams, Zachary Cohen and Whitney Wild

Capitol Hill security forces abruptly reversed plans to reinstall outer perimeter fencing and call in additional security measures on Capitol Complex grounds minutes after Derek Chauvin was convicted.

The fencing was meant to protect against potential unrest related to the trial.

Late Tuesday afternoon, an official security alert went out to Senate lawmakers and staffers confirming that Capitol Police officials were “closely monitoring reports for potential First Amendment activities in response to the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case” and had “decided to re-install portions of the outer perimeter fence.” But just moments later, Chauvin was found guilty on three counts. Moments after that, a Capitol Police spokesperson told CNN that the department had no plans to put up fencing. 

A separate source familiar with the security planning told CNN that the planned installation was suspended after Chauvin’s guilty verdict was handed down.

“We’ll reassess tomorrow based on overnight developments. If all is quiet I suspect we’ll turn this off all together,” this person said.

CNN has asked Capitol Police for comment on the timing of their request.

Some context: Cities across the country, including Washington, DC, have been preparing for potential unrest related to the Chauvin trial since at least last week. The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department announced April 15 plans to prepare for potential unrest related to the verdict that was expected to come this week. Yet the Capitol Police did not request the boosted security measures until Monday—the day that the jury began its deliberations in the Chauvin case.

The source familiar with the planning acknowledged that the verdict came sooner than Capitol security leadership had expected, but pushed back on the notion that the request for the fencing should have been made sooner than Monday.

“The intent was to be ready when the verdict came,” this person said, adding that the Capitol Police have been in daily communication with the DC Metropolitan Police. “We didn’t need it last week. The violence only started last week.”

8:30 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

Ben Jealous credits "all the activists in the street" that paved the way to the Chauvin guilty verdict

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

After Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts in the murder of George Floyd, Ben Jealous, a former NAACP leader, cited the history of community involvement and calls for social justice that led to Wednesday's verdict.

"You think about all of the movements that had to be built in order for this moment to happen, all the activists in the street," said Jealous, the president of People for the American Way.

"We have to see this as a beginning not an end until George Floyd's daughter can, with confidence, know that she will be safe throughout her life in a way that her father was not able to be," Jealous said.

Jealous told CNN's Erin Burnett that the Chauvin verdict cemented the need for continued activism and challenges to unfair and unethical police practices.

"It's so important that we stay in the streets, that we keep organizing and that we make sure that we actually don't just try what we've tried before and that has failed, but actually have the courage to try new things."
8:15 p.m. ET, April 20, 2021

People gather in Atlanta to demand justice in other cases after news of Chauvin verdict

A group gathered in the Edgewood and Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta in front of a George Floyd mural after the guilty verdict came down in the Derek Chauvin trial.

The group chanted and sang demanding justice in a number of others cases and made remarks about Georgia’s voting laws. 

The group marched to Centennial Olympic Park where they are now across the street from CNN Center.