Great Britain

Boris Johnson pays tribute to family of George Floyd as he ‘welcomes’ guilty verdict for killer cop Derek Chauvin

BORIS Johnson has paid tribute to the family of George Floyd as he "welcomed" a guilty verdict for killer cop Derek Chauvin.

The Minneapolis police officer, 45, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and faces a maximum sentence of 75 years in jail.

After the verdict, the Prime Minister said he was "appalled" by the death of Floyd last year.

He tweeted: "I was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict.

"My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd’s family and friends."

Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds while arresting the 46-year-old trucker, killing him after he had repeatedly yelled out: “I can’t breathe.”

He now faces a maximum 40 years in jail on the most serious charge, plus 25 years and ten years in prison on the other two.

The shamed officer, wearing a suit and face mask in court, showed no emotion as the verdicts - guilty on all counts - were read aloud by Judge Peter Cahill.

His bail was revoked and he was cuffed and led down to the cells – as cheers erupted from outside the courthouse.

At George Floyd Square, the memorial where Floyd was killed, a woman nearly collapsed in tears, crying out: “We matter. We matter.”

Chants of "justice" and "black lives matter" were heard thundering out.

At the intersection where Floyd was pinned down, a crowd chanted, “One down, three to go!” — a reference to the three other fired Minneapolis police officers facing trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting murder in Floyd’s death.

The US had been braced for violence before the jury’s decision, with fears that not guilty verdicts could spark the violent unrest seen last May following Floyd’s death.

More than 3,000 National Guard troops and 1,100 extra cops were drafted into Minneapolis, while the courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire.

US President Joe Biden, speaking just hours before the jury came back, said he was “praying” for the “right verdict”.

He said: “The evidence is overwhelming in my view.”

Speaking from the White House, he added: “I’ve come to know George’s family.

“I can only imagine the pressure and the anxiety they’re feeling. They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility.”

Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, added that Biden – who lost his wife and young daughter in a car crash, as well as his eldest son, Beau, to cancer - “knows how it is to lose a family member”.

He added: “He was just letting us know that he was praying for us and hoping that everything would come out to be ok.”

President Biden, vice president Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden called members of the Floyd family moments after the verdict.

In a video posted by Floyd’s lawyer Ben Crump, Biden told the family: “Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice. We're all so relieved.”

Biden said he hoped the verdict would give momentum to police reform efforts in the US.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said the verdict showed that Floyd’s life mattered.

He added: “No verdict can bring George Perry Floyd back to us, but this verdict does give a message to his family that he was somebody, that his life mattered, that all of our lives matter.”

George Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, called Tuesday a "huge day for the world".

She told CNN: "We’re finally starting to see. We walked around with eyes wide shut for a long time, so they’re starting to open today, and this is going to be the first in a future of change.

"For me, it means that my friends and people that have also lost loved ones now have a chance to get their cases reopened."

On Monday, the jury was ordered to begin considering its verdict on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The jury – made up of six white, four black and two mixed race people - deliberated for four hours on Monday, before continuing for six hours yesterday.

The second-degree murder count carries a maximum 40-year sentence, the third-degree murder charge 25-years and ten years in jail for the second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin will be sentenced at a later date, Judge Peter Cahill said.

Floyd had been arrested after producing a fake banknote at a store in Minneapolis last May.

His shocking death – captured in gruesome bystander video – sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world.

Prosecutors rested their case on Monday, following a three-week trial, by claiming Floyd died because Chauvin’s heart “was too small”.

They said Chauvin “had to know” that he was squeezing the life out of Floyd.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher, referring to the video of Floyd pinned to the pavement, told jurors to “believe your eyes”.

He added: “Use your common sense. What you saw, you saw.”

The trial judge Peter Cahill later claimed that a Democratic politician, Maxine Waters, may have recklessly given Chauvin grounds to appeal.

The Californian congresswoman visited Minneapolis this week and urged protestors to stay on the streets and “get more active” and “more confrontational” if the verdict was not guilty.

Derek Chauvin GUILTY of George Floyd murder in historic trial and cop faces up to 75 years after fears of violent protests

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