Minneapolis – Fired police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering African-American George Floyd.
Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday in the death of Floyd in a case that roiled the United States for almost a year, laying bare deep racial divisions.
A racially-diverse jury of seven women and five men in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis took less than two days at the end of a three-week trial to find the white officer guilty in unanimous decisions on all three charges he faced.
Chauvin, 45, could be handed decades behind bars for Floyd’s May 25, 2020 killing, which sparked protests against racial injustice around the world last year and is being seen as a landmark test of police accountability.
The 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department faces a maximum of 40 years in prison on the most serious of three charges he faced – second-degree murder.
He was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old black man lay handcuffed facedown in the street complaining he “can’t breathe”.
Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump hailed the verdict as a landmark victory for civil rights that could be a springboard to legislation to reform police forces in their dealings with minorities.
“Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement,” Crump tweeted.
“Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!”
Earlier on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden called for the “right” verdict in the racially charged trial of an ex-policeman accused of murdering George Floyd and described the case as “overwhelming”.