Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of the second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter of George Floyd this morning, New Zealand time.
Chauvin stands to spend up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.
The sequestered jury reached the verdict after nine hours of deliberation in a trial that has been the epicentre of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.
The death of Floyd after Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes during an arrest last May ignited nation-wide protests against racism and police brutality.
New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said there has been a lot of support for the movement by New Zealanders as they are affected by racism, too.
“I hope the death of Mr Floyd will continue to prompt New Zealanders to reflect on their own situations and encourage them to speak up against racism whenever it is apparent,” said Foon.
NBC News reported crowds outside the courtroom were chanting “All three counts! All three counts!” in celebration of the guilty verdict.
The court proceedings were broadcast to the public in a first for Minnesota.
Former president Barack Obama tweeted in support of the verdict. “Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more.”
The NAACP stressed the fight against racial injustice must continue, saying “the chapter on Derek Chauvin may be closed, but the fight for police accountability and respect for Black lives is far from over.”
Judge Peter Cahill thanked the jury for “heavy-duty service”, which involved having to watch the footage of Floyd’s death and hearing from 38 witnesses, including Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed Chauvin kneeling on the hand-cuffed Floyd’s neck.
President Joe Biden is set to speak on the trial in the next few hours, after commenting yesterday he was “praying for the right verdict”.