After three weeks of testimony and approximately 10 hours of deliberation by jurors, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on Tuesday of all three charges stemming from the killing of George Floyd last May in Minneapolis.
For Reese Baer, a senior at Logansport High School and intern at the Cass County prosecutor’s office, the verdict was surprising.
“All the charges are so similar,” he said. “I figured they would settle on one and find the other two (charges) not guilty.”
But for Michael Holsapple, the criminal justice program chair at Ivy Tech, the decision was unsurprising as he viewed the verdict from his home. Holsapple felt as though the prosecution delivered a “compelling and convincing” case.
Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The sentencing will likely take several weeks to be decided.
The verdict comes nearly a year after the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests across the country.
Baer speculated about how much fear played into the decision by jurors.
“I wonder if they were scared seeing what they saw on the media or even looking outside,” Baer said. “There’s military trucks out there and there’s (the) National Guard. There was a lot of people boarding up the windows and doors of their businesses.
“I wonder how much that played a role. They didn’t want to see their country burned down again.”
Josh Whistler echoed Baer’s comments on the Pharos-Tribune Facebook page.
“Of course he was found guilty,” Whistler wrote. “All of those jurors were afraid for their lives.”
Holsapple disagrees with the characterization of the jury as being afraid and that the role of a juror is often taken “very seriously” and “professionally” by people.
Gregory Dominick believes the right call was made considering the evidence provided.
“No one — black, white, or brown — ever deserves to die like George Floyd did,” he wrote on the Pharos-Tribune page. “May we now begin as a nation to heal and move on.”
Brenda Luster agreed, adding that no one deserved to go through what Floyd did and that “justice was served.”
Despite the verdict, Holsapple believes the relationship between police and the communities they serve remains complex.
“Some of those challenges remain and need to be addressed,” he said. “This was not a case against policing in America. This was a case directed at Derek Chauvin, and I think some perspective needs to be maintained in that regard as well.
“One verdict in a singular case does not change the entire nature of relationships between communities and policing.”