A Minneapolis court on Friday sentenced former policeman Derek Chauvin to 22 and a half years in prison for the murder of African American George Floyd. The killing that sparked the biggest demonstrations for racial justice that US has seen in decades. Long awaited, the judgment was welcomed by Floyd family’s lawyer as ‘historic’ while several people marched over the city with megaphones and motorcycle escorts. Many said Chauvin should have gotten 30 or 40 years.
May 25, 2020: Derek Chauvin and three colleagues arrest George Floyd, 46, on suspicion of having passed a fake $20 bill in a store in Minneapolis. They handcuff him and pin him to the ground in the street. Chauvin kneels on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, even as the man says, “I can’t breathe." Indifferent to the dying man’s groans and to the pleas of distraught passers-by, Chauvin continues to keep his knee on the Floyd’s neck. The scene, filmed and uploaded by a young woman, quickly goes viral.
May 26, 2020: The four officers, identified as Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Keung, are fired.
Hundreds of people pour onto streets of Minneapolis in protest leading to clashes with police and widescale damage to property.
May 27, 2020: Chauvin is identified as the officer who had pinned down Floyd with his knee on the latter’s neck. The city witnesses more protests, which turn violent leading to rioting and looting.
May 28, 2020: Governor Tim Walz activates Minnesota National Guard as he signs executive order amid protests in the two cities. The outside of Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct is set on fire.
The protests spread to other cities including Atlanta, Washington, DC and New York.
May 28, 2020: Derek Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He was later charged with second-degree murder.
June 1, 2020: The Hennepin County Medical Examiner and experts hired by Floyd’s family come to the conclusion that the death was a homicide. The two, however, differ on what caused it.
June 3, 2020: Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Keung are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
June 5, 2020: Minneapolis City Council bans use of chokeholds by police.
June 9, 2020: George Floyd is buried next to his mother in his native Houston.
August 28, 2020: Chauvin asks judge to dismiss murder charges against him.
October 7, 2020: Chauvin is released on bail on a bond of $1 million. Angered protesters take to streets to oppose his release.
October 9, 2020: The Hennepin County Court says it has allowed Chauvin to leave Minnesota and live in neighbouring state over safety concerns.
October 21, 2020: Judge Peter Cahill drops third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. The motion to dismiss two other charges, moved by Chauvin’s attorney, is denied. Further, the judge also turns down motions to dismiss charges against the three other officers.
November 5, 2020: Judge Cahill rules the four former cops accused in Floyd’s murder will be tried together in the county on March 8.
January 12, 2021: Cahill rules Chauvin will be tried separately due to COVID-19 and Jury selection will take place between March 8 to 26. The opening statements will not begin earlier than March 29 while the other three will be tried together starting on August 23.
March 11, 2021: Judge Cahill reinstates the third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin.
March 23, 2021: A jury of 15 people, comprising of nine White, four Black and two mixed race, is selected.
April 20, 2021: The jury, after deliberating for more than 10 hours over 2 days, finds Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
May 4, 2021: Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson files a motion for a new trial pointing out mistakes made by Judge Peter Cahill and state prosecutors. He claims violation of Chauvin’s constitutional rights to a due process and a fair trial.
June 25, 2021: On the eve of sentencing, the judge denies the defense’s request for a new trial.
June 26, 2021: A Minneapolis court awards Derek Chauvin 22 and a half years in prison. “This (jail term) is based on your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty shown to George Floyd," Judge Peter Cahill tells Chauvin. Wearing a gray suit, 45-year-old Chauvin gives his “condolences" to the Floyd family without apologising. The jurors take less than 10 hours to convict, a decision greeted with a huge sigh of relief across the country.
US President Joe Biden, whose government has been slow in implementing the police reforms promised during campaign, says: “I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered but it seems to me, under the guidelines, that seems to be appropriate."
March 2022: Chauvin’s three former colleagues will face trial in March 2022 on charges of complicity in homicide.
In parallel, the four men also face federal charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights. A date for the trial is yet to be decided.
Meanwhile, with good behavior, Chauvin could serve just two-thirds of any prison sentence, with the remaining third on supervised release.
(With Inputs from CNN and AFP)
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