On May 25, 2020, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, killing him.
The world protested, with thousands taking to the streets to demand “justice” for a murder we all saw on cell phone video, thanks to a teenage Black girl, Darnella Frazier, now the recipient of a Pulitzer citation for her bravery. “No justice, no peace” was among the rallying cries of Howard students who led a march in June 2020 from the hilltop campus to the White House, demanding change.
In March, the city of Minneapolis settled the Floyd family’s civil lawsuit for $27 million, the largest pretrial settlement in a wrongful death case ever. And most of us released a sigh of relief when Chauvin was found guilty by jurors on April 20.
With the request from Chauvin’s legal team for a new trial denied, Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison on June 25, the longest sentence for any former police officer in Minnesota history under state law. He will likely serve 15 years in state prison. Federal charges are still pending.
For most Black Americans, the jury’s guilty verdict was a welcome occurrence and a rare instance in which “justice” seemed possible in an imperfect and biased criminal justice system. However, Chauvin is an anomaly; most cops are never charged, let alone arrested, stripped of their careers and put on trial.
The Washington Post has tracked fatal shootings by on-duty police officers since 2015. Every year, the Post has found about 1,000 deadly shootings. In most cases, officers were not charged with any wrongdoing.