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Derek Chauvin guilty

Episode 210422 / 22 Apr 2021

The story

Derek Chauvin, the white former US police officer, has been found guilty of the second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter of African-American George Floyd. US President Joe Biden has said the conviction "can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America".

Useful vocabulary

manslaughter – crime of killing someone without intention

conviction – state of being guilty of a crime

spark – cause something to start

break down in tears – start to cry

graphic
– very clear

testify – to give evidence in court

restraint – something to stop someone from moving

invoke – use law to do something

incriminate – to make someone look or seem guilty

revoke
– to take away a right by law

cuffed
– in handcuffs

landmark – important moment in history

verdict – judgement or opinion of court

turning point – important moment of change

sentence – punishment after being found guilty

appeal – try to change a legal decision

Questions about the story...

1. How long did Derek Chauvin kneel on George Floyd’s neck?

2. According to expert witnesses, what caused George Floyd’s death?

3. True or false? The jury took a long time to reach a verdict after the trial.

4. What did people chant when the verdict was given?

5. What is the maximum sentence that Derek Chauvin faces?

More about the story…

What has happened?
White police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on African-American Mr Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. The event sparked mass protests around the world against racism. After a three-week trial, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.

What happened during the trial?
The trial of Derek Chauvin took place over three weeks. 45 witnesses took the stand and several hours of video footage were shown. Some of the witnesses described feeling "helpless" during the event and broke down in tears watching the graphic footage of Mr Floyd's death. Expert witnesses testified that Mr Floyd died from a lack of oxygen because of the style of restraint used by Chauvin and his colleagues. Chauvin himself chose not to testify, invoking his right to not incriminate himself.

It took the 12-member jury less than a day to reach their verdict. Chauvin, whose face was covered with a coronavirus mask, showed little reaction as the verdict was read, remaining quiet and looking around the room. His bail was revoked and he was taken away with his hands cuffed behind his back. The conviction of Derek Chauvin will be seen as a landmark event in the ongoing struggle for black equality.

What reaction has there been?
In a phone call with Mr Floyd's family, President Biden was heard saying: "At least now there is some justice." On television shortly afterwards, Mr Biden said that this kind of verdict was "much too rare".

People celebrated the verdict outside the courtroom and on the street in Minneapolis where Mr Floyd was killed. Cheers broke out and people chanted: "George Floyd" and "All three counts", referring to the three charges of which Chauvin was convicted. The Floyd family's lawyer, Ben Crump, said the conviction marked a "turning point in history" for the US.

What happens next?
A decision regarding how long Chauvin will spend in prison is expected to take place in two months, with the most serious charge carrying a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Chauvin's defence team has not yet commented on the verdict but is expected to appeal.

Find out more from the original BBC news report.

The answers

1. How long did Derek Chauvin kneel on George Floyd’s neck?
White police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on African-American Mr Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

2. According to expert witnesses, what caused George Floyd’s death?
Expert witnesses testified that Mr Floyd died from a lack of oxygen because of the style of restraint used by Chauvin and his colleagues.

3. True or false? The jury took a long time to reach a verdict after the trial.
False. It took the 12-member jury less than a day to reach their verdict.

4. What did people chant when the verdict was given?
Cheers broke out and people chanted: "George Floyd" and "All three counts", referring to the three charges of which Chauvin was convicted.

5. What is the maximum sentence that Derek Chauvin faces?
The most serious charge carrying a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

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