RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It was the verdict heard around the world. Tuesday, former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three charges in the killing of George Floyd, including 2nd-degree murder, 3rd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter.
NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin says the fact that the jury only took 10 hours to come to its conclusion - a relatively short amount of time in such high-profile cases - is a testament to the strength of the prosecution.
“No other verdict would have made sense,” Benjamin said. “What the defense could not surmount was what the prosecution proved; that Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck was a substantial factor in the cause of George Floyd’s death.”
The verdict brought with it the potential of widespread protests across the county like last summer, some of which turned violent, but Benjamin says those following the trial can be confident that those fears did not factor into Tuesday’s verdict.
“Nothing about this verdict had to do with the jury’s concern of a split verdict or a different verdict. What’s important about this verdict is that it was the right verdict,” Benjamin said. “It was based on the evidence, it was based on what the jury heard and saw, it was based on the law, it was justice. Justice was done.”
Benjamin says this verdict is not only clear proof that the legal system works, but could have implications on the accountability of officers in police-involved killings moving forward.
“We’ve seen that there are consequences for officers that use excessive force and that’s illustrated by the verdict in the case, but we also saw after George Floyds death reform state-by-state, legislature-by-legislature beginning to change the law that has shield the police from consequences of using excessive force in the past,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin says despite the pandemic or the of racial movements in response to police-involved killings, this was a trial that exhibited the very best of the criminal justice system at work.
“This was a trial that exhibited the very best of the criminal justice system at work. It was a trial demonstrated by extraordinary professionalism by the prosecution and the defense and the judge,” Benjamin said. “There were no theatrics, no raised voices, no drama, this was a trial as trials were meant to be.”
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