Yahoo Finance Live panel breaks down the verdict reached for the Dereke Chauvin case and what this means going forward.
SEANA SMITH: A verdict has been reached in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. We are expecting a verdict to be read here any minute. So as we wait, we want to bring in our panel here for you.
We have Yahoo Finance reporters and anchors Kristin Myers and Alexis Keenan. And we're also joined by Jami Floyd, senior editor of race and justice of New York Public Radio. Jami, let me go to you first just in terms of what's going through your mind right now. What are you thinking as we do await this verdict?
JAMI FLOYD: I'm thinking it was quick. 10 hours, 11 hours, that's pretty short. I mean, I can't think of another case in which a big case, especially in which the jury turned around this quickly. The only other one that comes immediately to mind, of course, is OJ. They came back in an hour.
I think juries know not to do that. But this is short, and usually a quick verdict means an acquittal. But I don't think that's what it means in this case. I could be wrong. But I don't think so.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Kristin, as we await this verdict, there's a great deal of nervousness across the country. What's at stake?
KRISTIN MYERS: Well, I think that the greatest amount of nervousness is going to come on the potential riots and protests that folks are expecting to happen as we were just hearing from the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. I think businesses are absolutely terrified that this verdict is going to come in, that there's going to be an acquittal, and that there's going to have to be some sort of reckoning that is going to be happening in the streets. I mean, ever since this trial started, we have had two shootings since.
One of Daunte Wright, which actually is in Minneapolis itself, and of course, of a 13-year-old boy in Chicago. And we've seen the reaction to that. We've seen that as this trial was ongoing. And so I think of this verdict comes back as an acquittal, there's very real concerns here of what is going to happen in the streets when folks anger, when their fear, when their sadness, just all of their emotions get to be expressed in the streets.
And then there's also what's at stake politically. Even President Biden weighed in on this trial. And he said-- and I'm going to quote him here. He said, "I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict. The evidence is overwhelming in my view." We even heard Congresswoman Maxine Waters also weigh in on this, talking to the protesters, saying, that they needed to get more confrontational if the verdict does not come back with some sort of prison sentence. So I think that there's a lot at stake here economically in terms of the businesses. There's a lot at stake socially and also politically.
SEANA SMITH: Jami, I want to follow up with you. Just in terms of when we do get this verdict here, how does this relate to policing across the country and what we could expect there?
JAMI FLOYD: Right, so I think-- first of all, I think public figures should stay out of it. Maxine Waters, and with all due respect, President Biden are only helping Derek Chauvin in his appeal when he says I didn't get a fair trial. So that's my opinion on that. With regard to policing, there are two things happening here. There's the trial, and then there's the legacy of George Floyd.
This is the case. I do think it's very important that police officers be held accountable. And there's a lot of anger. There's a lot of frustration and rightful hostility about the fact that police officers, when they killed black people in the street, don't get disciplined, let alone tried for what they've done. But the trial of one man is not an end point of anything or even a beginning.
What we need is real reform. So what happens in this courtroom, sure it matters. But what really will be the legacy of George Floyd, what really has happened since last May 25th is a movement that has started. And a lot of people talk about a racial reckoning. Well, black people in this country have been reckoning with race for hundreds of years.
It's only the other people who suddenly woke up and realized, oh my goodness, something's got to change. So the real legacy of George Floyd and for George Floyd is this movement that has started, as you ask, about police reform. And that I think really is a change that we're seeing. And it will be ongoing I hope no matter what the outcome of this case.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Jami, doesn't-- it's more than just reforming police departments nationwide. There's this remarkable book, "Caste," by Isabel Wilkerson. And at one point, in this book, she talks about-- we saw what happened with the police officer who shot an African-American man in his apartment and killed him. She was convicted. And then the judge in that case, African-American I believe, as well as members of the jury went over to console the police officer. Now that was a tragedy. But when we talk about reform, it's greater than just reforming police departments, isn't it?
JAMI FLOYD: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for asking the question. It is not just about the police.
We had this conversation over dinner last night in my home, talking about how the police in this country fit into a much larger conversation that we need to be having about what you're asking about, race, race. It's about race. Our long history with race in this country, and class of course, class and oppression.
And the police in this country, wherever you may live, whether it's a big city or a small municipality, they're just part of a larger structure that is designed to maintain order. And very often that has to do with racial dissent. It has to do with the class structure.
It goes back to slavery days. You are right. The "Caste" book is wonderful. The other book, of course, is Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," which is all about the modern day prison industrial complex. And it ends in prison. But where does it start? It starts on the street with arrest.
So it is a deep and difficult question that we're not going to answer as we wait for this verdict. But I really appreciate the question. And the answers are very difficult and thorny. And they don't come with just one verdict.
SEANA SMITH: Jami, we want you to stand by. We also want to bring in another guest that we have here, Jonathan Weinhagen. He's back with us. President and CEO at Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. And Jonathan, you were talking before just about how businesses have been preparing for this verdict. But talk to us just about-- walk us through the impact that you think this verdict could have on businesses in your area in the Minneapolis area.
JONATHAN WEINHAGEN: Yeah, I think it depends. We don't know what that verdict is going to be. We don't know what the deliberation of those 12 individual jurors have been or what verdict they're going to hand over to the judge, which I think there's a great expectation and hope for some level of justice. And as I listen to community and I talked to folks on the street, the justice looks like a conviction. Justice looks like a murder charge with a significant sentence, which obviously we won't know for several weeks with regards to sentencing. So I think there's real worry about what an acquittal could be.
And your last guest just talked about that a little bit. That's when I think the community will rise and be really concerned with what the outcome is. And we could see some activity that looks very reminiscent of what we saw in the days following George Floyd's death in May and June of last year.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Kristin, what does the verdict, whether it's guilty or not guilty, say to young Americans who haven't lived through this kind of cycle of shooting, death trial where there is a verdict? And it seems like we keep going through these cycles.
KRISTIN MYERS: I mean, I don't know of any young Americans that haven't lived through these cycles, particularly if they're black. I mean, I think young Black folks are taught from a very early age that police are people that should and could be feared. I think that if this verdict comes back as an acquittal and not as a conviction, I think it just reinforces something that a lot of Black folks already know in the United States that they are second class citizens, and that the systems of justice are not built to be equitable to them at all. I think it just reinforces a lot of things that people already know, at least Black children, and Brown children, and young Black folks and young Brown folks already know.
I think it just really reinforces that message. I think it reinforces the sadness that so many folks, like my mom, my brother, my boyfriend, my friends, my family feel, the fear that they already feel. I think it just really strengthens that message, which would be incredibly sad, I think, if that's what the verdict comes back.
SEANA SMITH: Certainly, and we want to bring in Alexis Keenan for the legal aspect of this. And Alexis, we just heard our guest Jami talking about the fact that the jury deliberated for a very short time. It was just over 10 hours. It started yesterday, ending today. A very quick decision.
What does that mean just in terms of what we could expect? And what's your reaction to the fact that it was-- that time frame was so short?
ALEXIS KEENAN: Well, Seana, the fast turnaround with this jury, a lot of people will say, look, that means that's a good thing for the prosecution. But in a long career of covering criminal trials that I did before covering these financial markets, I will tell you that the most predictable thing about a jury is that it is inherently unpredictable. Now, the jurors, the 12 jurors, seven women and five men, they are looking at three different charges that have been brought by prosecutors, second degree murder.
That's a felony murder charge where the prosecution would have to show that Chauvin committed or attempted to commit a felony in the course of causing Floyd's death. Next is that third degree, depraved mind style murder charge. That is with reckless disregard for the safety of others.
And then you have the third charge, second degree manslaughter. And that's really a negligence charge. Now none of these are intentional type murder charges. They all do not require the intent to kill. However, they do come-- at least that first one comes with significant penalties, a 40 year maximum term on that second degree felony murder charge.
Though, for defendants like Chauvin, who have not had a prior conviction, that statutory guidance from the sentencing guidelines is 12 and 1/2 years. But 12 and 1/2 years on that charge, 12 another 12 and 1/2 on the third degree murder charge if that's a conviction, and on the manslaughter charge, four years. But still, very significant charges that he's looking at here.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Jami, there was something I think you wanted to add to what Alexis was just saying. Go for it.
JAMI FLOYD: Well, I agree with everything Alexis said. The sentencing guidelines are there for the judge to consider. The prosecutor, assuming he's convicted-- first of all, I agree wholeheartedly that juries are entirely unpredictable. And any lawyer worth her salt knows not to predict the jury's decision before the verdict comes in because 50% of the time you will be wrong. So I only go to the sentencing because it will be on the table if there's a conviction.
In this case, there are two things, despite Chauvin's lack of a criminal history, that might counsel the judge toward the upwards recommendation that the prosecutor would ask for. Though, I agree that generally he would not be inclined to do that. And that is that Chauvin has a lengthy, lengthy disciplinary record as a police officer.
The jury didn't hear about it. But it is in the police record. It's there. 17 to 24 disciplinary complaints-- some of which he was disciplined for, some he was only reprimanded, some he was slapped on the wrist. But they're there. And the judge will see them and already knows about them.
And the other thing, of course, is the nine minutes and 29 seconds that the judge has seen over and over again. So if he's convicted, the judge may want to send a message to the public, to the world, to the city of Minneapolis. And he may sentence him to the max. And he may do it consecutively meaning one sentence after the other after the other if there are multiple convictions. He may not. But this is a very different kind of a trial.
SEANA SMITH: But Jami, what happens if there is an acquittal? What's next on that front?
JAMI FLOYD: Well, just looking at the legal, within the four corners of the courtroom, that's it. That's it. That's it. There's nothing next.
Well, actually, that's not right. OK, let me correct myself publicly on Yahoo News. That's it for this group of lawyers and prosecutors.
So once you're convicted, this prosecution team cannot come after you again. The whole double jeopardy rule that we all know so well. But the federal, there's always a possibility that the feds can come after you.
We saw it in the '60s with Bobby Kennedy's department of justice. They would go after white supremacist who killed black people down in the South and had not been thoroughly prosecuted with good intent and good hearts. And they come after you for civil rights violations. And that could happen here. That's the only way you can have a double prosecution in a case like this. But generally, the defendant walks out a free man as we've heard that old cliche.
ALEXIS KEENAN: And Jami, to your point, there have been some indications during the trial that if there is an acquittal that the government may be already working up a case for a civil rights violation claim. Though, we should also remind viewers that this does not have to be an all or nothing verdict or acquittal. We have three charges here.
And certainly, the jury needs to be unanimous if they are going to decide one way or another on each of these charges. So we could come back with a mixed bag. We could have them saying yes, there's a conviction on one of these charges, two of these charges, or three of these charges for that matter.
JAMI FLOYD: Right, I mean, I have to say-- the one-- I said don't second guess the jury. It's a mistake. The one thing, the speed of this decision does make me pretty confident of, I don't think there's a whole lot of haggling that went on back there because they didn't have time to negotiate. Or sometimes juries will compromise.
One person wants a conviction on murder two. And somebody else wants an acquittal. And so then they come around to murder three.
But they weren't back there long enough for that. They obviously took a poll, which you're not supposed to do by the way. They all agreed on something. And here they come. So we'll see what it is pretty soon.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Jami, you are correct as we're awaiting directions as to when we want to tune into the judge. Very quickly-- the whole country is watching this. But the whole country will see this differently, right?
JAMI FLOYD: Sadly, yes. I wish we weren't as divided as we are. But as I find out on my Twitter feed every day, we come at these things from very different points of view.
- All rise for the [AUDIO OUT].
- We have the judge here getting underway. Let's listen in to what he's saying.
- Please be seated. Members of the jury, I understand you have a verdict. Members of the jury, I will now read the verdicts as they will appear in the permanent records of the 4th judicial district. State of Minnesota, county of Hennepin, district court, fourth judicial district, state of Minnesota plaintiff versus Derek Michael Chauvin, defendant. Verdict count one.
Court file number 27, CR 201-2646. We the jury, in the above entitled manner as to count one, unintentional second degree murder while committing a felony find the defendant guilty. As the verdict agreed to this 20th day of April 2021 at 1:44 PM, signed juror foreperson, juror number 19.
Same caption, verdict count two. We the jury, in the above entitled manner, as to count to, third degree murder perpetrating an eminently dangerous act find the defendant guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April 2021 at 1:45 PM signed by jury foreperson, juror number 19.
Same caption, verdict count 3. We the jury, in the above entitled manner as to count 3, second degree manslaughter, culpable negligence, creating an unreasonable risk find the defendant guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April 2021 at 1:45 PM. Jury foreperson, 019.
Members of the jury, I'm now going to ask you individually if these are your true and correct verdicts. Please respond yes or no. Juror number two, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number nine, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 19, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 27, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 44, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 52, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 55, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 79, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 85, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 89, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 91, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Juror number 92, are these your true and correct verdicts?
- Are these your verdicts, so say you one so say you all?
- Members of the jury, I find that the verdicts as read reflect the will of the jury and will be filed accordingly. I have to thank you on behalf of the people of the state of Minnesota for not only jury service, but heavy duty jury service. What I'm going to ask you to do now is to follow the deputy back into your usual room. And I will join you in a few minutes to answer your questions and to advise you further. So all rise for the jury. All right, be seated. With the guilty verdicts returned, we're going to have-- Blakely, you may file a written argument as to Blakely factors within one week.
The court will issue findings on the Blakely factors, the factual findings. One week after that, we'll order a PSI immediately, returnable in four weeks. And we will also have a briefing on after you get the PSI six weeks from now. And then eight weeks from now, we will have sentencing. We'll get you the exact dates in a scheduling order. Is there a motion on behalf of the state?
- Your Honor, the state would move to have the court revoke the defendant's bail and remand him into custody pending sentencing.
- Bail is revoked. Bond is discharged. And the defendant is remanded to the custody of the Hennepin County Sheriff. Anything further?
- All right, thank you.
SEANA SMITH: The verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin and the killing of George Floyd. You just heard guilty on all three counts-- guilty of second degree unintentional murder, guilty of third degree murder, and guilty of second degree manslaughter. And we're also looking at live footage of outside the court. You can see the crowd cheering, excited about the verdicts that were just read from the judge of a former police officer Derek Chauvin.
We want to bring back in our guests. We have Jami Floyd, senior editor of race and justice at New York Public Radio. And we're also joined by Kristin Myers is standing by Alexis Keenan and Sibile Marcellus here to give us their reaction. Jami, let me go over to you first, just your reaction on the guilty verdicts on all three counts for Derek Chauvin.
JAMI FLOYD: Not surprising. I mean, the prosecution did an outstanding job at this presentation of the case. Excellent witnesses. Obviously, the bystander witnesses were incredibly compelling.
I've written this week about the fact that they were the most compelling percipient witnesses I've ever seen in any of the many hundreds of cases I've covered, and truly hundreds of cases. And these were the most emotionally compelling witnesses I've ever seen. The expert witnesses were outstanding, including the police witnesses and the medical witnesses.
And then the defense case was weak. It was weak. They had to play the cards they were dealt. It was a bad case to begin with.
And I thought their strategy, even given that case they had to work with, was not the right one. So I'm not surprised. I guess that's a long way of saying I'm not surprised by this verdict. And I will say I'm relieved. It's finally a day of justice for a black victim of a white police officer in an American courtroom.
ADAM SHAPIRO: I want to bring in Sibile Marcellus. And I'm curious, Sibile, because the attorney for Mr Floyd's family, Ben Crump, made the statement that justice for Black America is justice for all of America. What do you think of what we are witnessing at this moment in history?
SIBILE MARCELLUS: This is a tremendous moment in history, Adam, to see guilty on all three counts, guilty, guilty, guilty. The whole world watched that video as Derek Chauvin, a police officer who should know better, protect the community, actually put his knee on a man's neck even as the man pleaded thing he couldn't breathe and just let George Floyd die on the floor under his knee pinned down in police custody. It was absolutely unacceptable. The protests that we saw was really a reaction to that.
And right now I'm looking at protesters. And it's just relief, tears, crying, people just seeing that for once, or at least not necessarily for once, but we're seeing the justice system really work as it should and do its job here.
SEANA SMITH: And Kristin, going off of what else Ben Crump has also tweeted here in the last couple of minutes, he's simply saying that we still have work to do. We must pass George Floyd Justice and Policing Act to hold police accountable and prevent unjustified killings of marginalized people of color.
KRISTIN MYERS: Yeah, so Seana, this isn't the end point. This is, in a way, almost the beginning. I know that a lot of folks at home feel relief. I let out a huge sigh of relief as that verdict came in.
But I don't think that this is the time that we can let up. This is the time when you have to continue to hold politicians accountable for some of their legislation, hold police accountable for their actions. There are, of course, calls to end qualified immunity for the police officers that are always involved in these shootings, involved in these kinds of cases where an unarmed black man or woman ends up being murdered. Those are the next steps that absolutely need to happen.
This is absolutely a great time to celebrate, to feel a bit of relief. But it is not the time to end. And I think that that's something that we continue to hear from civil rights leaders, that we continue to hear from some politicians. And I think that's going to be the calls going forward, not to let up and to keep pushing forward to progress.
ADAM SHAPIRO: We're going to get final thoughts from all of the people who have joined us over the last half hour as all of us across the United States have witnessed history. Let's start with Jami. Your final thoughts as we witness this because it's not done yet. The President's still going to address the country.
JAMI FLOYD: Well, Dr. King said that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. And I do believe that this is a day on which we can take those words to heart. But think of what it took to get to this day.
We all witnessed a police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man for nine minutes and 29 seconds. 4 and 1/2 minutes of those the man was dying. He was he was dead under the officer's knee.
And that knee is representative of the knee of white oppression on the necks of Black people. Get your knee off my neck is not just about the neck of-- my name is Floyd. My name is Floyd. I'm Jami Floyd.
And as I watched that happen, it was a symbolic knee on the neck of my ancestors. And black people across the country watched and felt the same way. This is a knee on our neck. And we've had it. Get your knee off my neck.
And white people saw for the first time, many of them, what this civil rights movement of the last 50 years, hundreds years has been about. And this is what it took. Because when a shooting happens in an instant, well, people don't really believe that maybe the officer didn't intend to do it.
But nine minutes and 29 seconds, it's hard to believe that there wasn't intent. So now the jury has spoken. The intent was there.
We've seen the video. Let's not forget George Floyd. Let's not forget the nine minutes and 29 seconds. Let's not forget the movement. And let's make the change we want to see in our country and in the world.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Jonathan, you're president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. You're actually in Minneapolis as this is all unfolding. What are your thoughts right now?
JONATHAN WEINHAGEN: I mean, it's certainly an element of relief. It's my hope that this verdict offers at least a small amount of peace certainly for the Floyd family, and of course, to members of our community who I hear stories of being worried just sending their sons and daughters and husbands and wives out into the world. I think the earlier point was really poignant. This isn't a conclusion nor is it a beginning, but a continuation of the really hard work that we have ahead.
We talk about this all of the time in the Minneapolis St. Paul region. As much as we boast some great progress and prosperity, we also have some of the most significant racial disparities and achievement disparity and economic disparities in our marketplace. And I think this is a moment for us to look in the mirror and to think about the responsibility that we have as a market to respond and to drive towards a more just and civil future. That's the commitment that the business community has made. We're going to be arm in arm with our policy makers and members of the community with a real commitment to take this moment of justice and build on it.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Jonathan, thank you. Sibile, your final thoughts on what we're witnessing?
SIBILE MARCELLUS: Adam, I just want to say that here at Yahoo Finance, we really took what happened in 2020 on May 25th, the death of George Floyd, so seriously. We actually launched a program dedicated to social justice, a time for change. And it's been really incredible to see corporate America, businesses respond and try to eliminate racism as much as they can, try to have more promotions, more raises, try to find ways to have more Fortune 500 CEOs that are black.
So it's really been such a tremendous journey over the past year. And we really have George Floyd to thank for that. And now we know Derek Chauvin will pay the price.
SEANA SMITH: All right, Sibile. Thank you. And again, the former police officer Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three charges, found guilty on second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. And right now, you can see the crowd right there all feeling a sense of relief, a sense of joy here following that verdict that we just heard from the judge a few minutes ago.
And we have been witnessing people in the crowds hugging each other, cheering, smiles, something that we haven't seen in quite some time as we were questioning what this verdict would be today. But again, guilty on all three counts. And you're seeing the reaction in the crowd.