Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck in a case that triggered worldwide protests, violence and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.
Several family members watched the verdict from Houston where Floyd spent much of his youth. Floyd’s sister LaTonya could hardly contain her emotions after the jury's roughly 10 hours of deliberations leading to a guilty verdict.
"I feel like heaven is standing on my shoulders,” she said. “My brother got justice, and that's very rare and few as many times as this has happened to people of color. He didn't deserve that, he didn't deserve none of it.”
It’s been a long, emotional journey for those who knew Floyd. Childhood friend Jonathan Veal remembers the day his former classmate and teammate first made national headlines. Floyd’s death came just months after the last time they communicated via text.
“We just started reliving some old high school memories and some crazy things we used to do as teenagers,” said Veal. “We referred to each other by our jersey numbers so he signed off that text message by saying ‘with love from 88 to 42.’”
Veal said the last year has been surreal and he hopes his friend’s name becomes synonymous with change in law enforcement. Floyd’s sister said she was happy watching Chauvin taken away in handcuffs.
“I'm so happy, and when I watched this man being handcuffed in court, behind his back just like he did my brother. He is not in control anymore, he has no power,” she said.
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Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.