Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd on April 20. This verdict comes 11 months after a video showing Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, while Floyd repeatedly said that he could not breathe.
The jury found Chauvin guilty on 3 charges:
- second-degree murder, which has a sentence of up to 40 years in prison
- third-degree murder, which has a maxiumum of 25 years
- second-degree manslaughter, which has a sentence of up to 10 years
“The death of George Floyd served as a new inflection point in our nation’s pursuit of justice and equal treatment under the law,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce wrote in a statement to students. “As a community, we stand in support of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and all people working to create a more equitable, inclusive and safe world.”
University of Mississippi law professor Ronald Rychlak believes that “no one was left untouched” by the video of Floyd’s death.
According to Rychlak, the prosecution worked to separate Officer Derek Chauvin from “the police,” ultimately painting him as the bad guy who deviated from accepted police practices.” The defense, on the other hand, tried to argue that Chauvin was acting within departmental guidelines.
“The problem for the defense was that the people who wrote the guidelines said that he was not acting within them. So, the jury went with the prosecution and their witnesses,” Rychlak said.
Many students at the university feel that this verdict is a stepping stone towards justice in the country, but some students also believe that the country has a long way to go.
“The system that caused George Floyd to get killed in the first place is still operating with limited reform since his murder,” Sydney Rehm, a freshman international studies major, said. “This is a happy occasion, and should be celebrated as such, but it is overshadowed by the mountain of work left to do to actively combat racist and violent practices in law enforcement.”
For some students, the verdict in Chauvin’s trial shows that the justice system is working in the right direction.
“The fact that he was actually found guilty is a great step towards justice,” De’Arrius Rhymes, a senior chemistry major, said. “It’s the starting point for building confidence in our justice system.”
For other students, this was the “satisfying ending” that the nation needed.
“Justice is served,” Issac Randle, a freshman accounting major, said. “Karma always comes around for the bad.”
Sophomore integrated marketing communications major Alexis Willingham said while she was happy to see George Floyd and his family receive justice, she was confused as to why it took almost a year for that justice to come.
“I do believe that the recent verdict of Derek Chauvin is a good start at holding policemen accountable for their crimes, but obviously there needs to be more,” Willingham said. “America will not be a truly free country until justice is served for everyone.”
According to CNN, Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines recommend about 12.5 years in prison for each murder charge and about four years for the manslaughter charge, but the state has asked for a tougher sentence. Chauvin’s sentencing is set for eight weeks from now. He will remain in jail until his sentencing, as bail was revoked.
“I’m going to put up a fight everyday because I’m not just fighting for George anymore, but I’m fighting for everyone around this world,” Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother said. “Today, we’re able to breathe again.”