Update: A statement from IU College Republicans was added after publication.
Members of the IU community reacted with relief after Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd in an incident captured on video last year, was found guilty of three counts of muder and manslaughter.
Just after 5 p.m. Tuesday, Judge Peter A. Cahill read the verdict, which was returned after a little over 10 hours of deliberation.
Chauvin was taken into custody following the guilty verdict and will remain in jail until his sentencing hearing, which will take place in eight weeks, Cahill said.
Darryl Heller, Director of the Civil Rights Heritage Center at IU-South Bend, said he was relieved the verdict was returned guilty.
“I think the immediate response was relief,” Heller said. “There’s been so many other instances of unarmed Black people killed by law enforcement which never even made it to trial.”
Heller said he had a good suspicion Chauvin would be found guilty after the verdict was returned so quickly from the jury.
Stephanie Whitehead, IU-East associate professor of criminal justice, said a verdict being returned quickly signaled there was not much debate among the jurors.
“It usually means that the evidence, whichever way, for the defense or the prosecution, was very clear,” she said. “In this case, it would be the prosecution who just did a good job presenting the case that they wanted to make. It was just very clear.”
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Chauvin’s lawyer is expected to prepare an appeal. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-43, said Saturday in a Minnesota protest that protesters should get more confrontational if the jury were to give a not-guilty verdict. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, said Waters’s comments could’ve been perceived as threats and moved for a mistrial.
Judge Cahill criticized the comments and suggested they may be grounds for an appeal, though Cahill also said he didn’t believe it had prejudiced the jury in the current trial.
Whitehead said she doesn’t believe the defense would have a good case under those grounds for an appeal.
Shibani Mody, a vice presidential candidate in the 2021 IUSG Executive Elections, said the verdict was crucial to spur any type of legislative change. Mody also serves as the director of outreach and diversity for College Democrats at IU.”
“There are people who are crying for justice and crying for our country to start taking accountability for these actions,” Mody said.
Mody said today’s verdict is only important if it sparks change to help prevent another incident in the future.
“While today was significant, it doesn’t mean that it stops,” Mody said. “What we need is for police officers to be going through anti-racism training, de-escalation training. We need to stop over-funding these departments and start giving that money back to communities, so they can uplift themselves out of generational poverty.”
IU College Republicans also released a statement Tuesday.
“We are pleased to see officer Derek Chauvin held accountable for his actions in the killing of George Floyd, and hope we can come together in a productive dialogue regarding police reform going forward,” it said in a statement.