[4/21/21] – Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis Police Officer, Found Guilty of Murdering George Floyd

A jury on Tuesday, April 20th, found Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police Officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until he lost consciousness and died, guilty of all charges in one of the most closely watched and consequential trials in recent history. After more ten hours of deliberation over a span of two days, the 12-person jury convicted Chauvin, who is 45-years-old, of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Following the verdict, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Judge Peter Cahill revoked Chauvin’s bail and remanded him into custody, per the prosecutor’s request.

According to Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, a murder charge for a person with no criminal history can carry a presumptive sentence of 12.5-years, whereas the presumptive sentence for a manslaughter conviction is 4-years. The maximum sentences for each count are different. Second-degree unintentional murder can result in a maximum of 40-years behind bars, whereas third-degree murder carries a maximum of 25-years, and second-degree manslaughter carries a maximum of 10-years. It is unclear what Chauvin’s sentence will be, but the prosecution is expected to push for a longer sentence, citing aggravating factors. Judge Cahill is expected to sentence Chauvin in eight weeks, following the completion of a presentence investigation report. On Tuesday night, the Minnesota Department of Corrections announced that Chauvin was transferred to the state’s maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights due to an arrangement with the Hennepin County Sheriffs. He will he remain in custody at that prison until his sentence hearing.

Across the country, everyday citizens, activists, celebrities, organizations, and elected officials, have all reacted to the jury’s verdict. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both addressed the nation following the verdict, where President Biden stated that the verdict “a giant step towards justice in America,” before adding that more needed to be done, while Vice President Harris stated that “Today, we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice is not the same as equal justice.” Many others, including Minnesota’s Attorney General,Keith Ellison, are pointing out that the guilty verdicts were accountability, not justice.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.

The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.



  • Writing: Explain the significance of the Derek Chauvin verdict. What does this mean for policing in America?
  • Debate: According to various news sources, the prosecution is expected to ask Judge Peter Cahill to go above the Minnesota sentencing guideline range and impose longer sentences. Do you believe that Derek Chauvin should receive sentences above the minimum?
  • Poll: The guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin case are accountability, not justice. (Agree or Disagree).
  • Short Answer: Discuss the three different charges and what each of them carries.  

Cover Image: © iStockphoto.com/YingYang

Which component of the criminal justice system would you like to see more coverage of in future Lecture Sparks?

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