US President Joe Biden has described Derek Chauvin’s conviction for killing black American George Floyd as a stepping-stone on the road to justice.
He suggested it “can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” but warned: “We can’t stop here”.
He told Mr Floyd’s family in a telephone call: “At least now there is some justice.”
“Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back, but this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.
“We can’t leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done. We have to look at it as we did for those nine minutes and 29 seconds,” he said.
Vice-President Kamala Harris urged lawmakers to pass the George Floyd bill aimed at reforming policing in the US.
“This bill is part of George Floyd’s legacy. This work is long overdue.
“Here’s the truth about racial injustice. It is not just a black America problem or a people of colour problem,” she said.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, was found guilty on three charges – second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
After hearing the verdicts on Tuesday Chauvin showed little emotion with his eyes darting left and right above a covid mask covering his mouth and nose, before putting both arms behind his back, and he was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom.
His bail was immediately revoked and he was placed in custody, with sentencing forecast to take place in two months time. Chauvin is expected to appeal against the verdict with second-degree murder in Minnesota carrying a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment. Third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years behind bars and second-degree manslaughter by up to 10 years.
Footage of officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes in a Minneapolis street during his arrest last May went viral and led to worldwide condemnation and fury, igniting worldwide protests against racism and excessive use of force by police.
The jury took less than a day to reach their verdicts after a three-week trial, with hundreds of people cheering outside the court building as they were announced.
Ben Crump, the Floyd family lawyer, said it marked a “turning point in history” in the United States which “sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement.
“Painfully earned justice has finally arrived,” he added.
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