George Floyd Trial Ends in Guilty Verdict for Police Officer


Patrick Behn

UNRESTFUL: After the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, many took to the streets demanding change and justice. A year later, people are still grappling with the issues the incident brought into the world spotlight.

Irrissa Guyett, staff writer

On May 25, a store called the police on a man was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Thomas Lane arrived on the scene and arrested him, and proceeded to try to get him into the police car. The man, George Floyd, resisted as he was claustrophobic. During this, Derek Chauvin and You Thao arrived. Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground and put his knee on his neck for at least 8 minutes and 15 seconds. During this, onlookers watched in horror as Floyd repeatedly told officers that he couldn’t breathe. Even after Floyd lost conciseness and stoped breathing, Chauvin continued to hold his knee on his neck. When paramedics arrived, Floyd was still not breathing and he could not be resuscitated. This sparked massive protests over the summer and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Many peaceful BLM protests were met with violence. According to the Amnesty International Organization, “Law enforcement repeatedly used physical force, chemical irritants such as tear gas and pepper spray, and kinetic impact projectiles as a first resort tactic against peaceful protestors rather than as a response to any sort of actual threat or violence.” Later, rubber bullets were used, but they caused major injuries to some protestors. At least seven major U.S. cities and a few states subsequently enacted or proposed limits or bans on the use of rubber bullets and other projectiles.

Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for the death of George Floyd. J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, the other officers involved, are scheduled to have their own trials in August. Millions of people celebrated the announcement of Chauvin’s eventually conviction.

“I do agree that the police man should be charged with something, but I do feel like they could be a little more lenient because he had drug issues. Now, people are making him out to be this poor character out to be a good role model, which is not correct. I think some police officers are power-hungry and go after people of lower status who are not thought overy highly of,” said Samantha Meyers. The Geore Floyd incident and what followed shows the extent to which race is still an issue in the United States.

The autopsy of Floyd, a key piece of evidence in the trial, was used in Chauvin’s defense. “The autopsy showed that he died of a heart attack, so if he [Chauvin] killed him, he would have died by asphyxiation. Now, I don’t condone that he sat on his neck for nine minutes. There were definitely other things that could have been done,” said Hank Winder.

While Floyd did have heart conditions, the medical officials confirmed that he needed more oxygen than he was getting while restrained due to those heart conditions. The first witness to take the stand in the case was forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas, who testified for the prosecution. “The actions of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death — specifically, those actions were subdual, restraint and neck compression,” Thomas said. Emergency physician and forensic medicine specialist Dr. Bill Smock also took the stand Thursday and gave a similar opinion, saying Floyd died not of a drug overdose but because he had “no air left in his body.”

Many people see the the trial and protests as having the hoped-for influence on race and policing in America. “I think [this] will affect how police officers are charged and recognized,” said Meyers. This has been seen when Minnesota police officer Kim Potter accidentally shot Daunte Wright and immediately resigned afterward suggesting that police are taking more responsibility for their actions.

While the problems surrounding race and policing are by no means solved, hopefully all the tragedy and turmoil of the past year will result in needed change and improvement.