Jurors in Minneapolis convict former police officer. Wisconsin panel still debating a “use of force” policy.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday of murder in the killing of George Floyd, bringing the case to an end just under a year after the officer knelt on Floyd’s kneck for about nine minutes.
“Amen! Thank you God! Thank you God! I mean seriously, it feels like it’s a new day,” Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, a UW-Eau Claire professor and activist who lives in Eau Claire, exclaimed as she heard the guilty verdicts announced to all three counts against Chauvin.
Fred Royal, president of the Milwaukee NAACP, said the verdict was a positive development, but it was not justice.
“I wouldn’t say it’s justice. I would say his sentence is correct,” Royal said. “I think what justice would look like is to further embed this type of police accountability and police reform in this country.”
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes shared a similar sentiment in a statement posted on Twitter.
“It’s truly amazing how the idea of justice can be cause for celebration,” Barnes said. “We shouldn’t have to take ‘victories’ when we can get them. We shouldn’t have had to go through this in the first place. Nevertheless, I hope this verdict ushers in a new era. We all deserve better.”
Jurors read the verdict just hours after the Assembly Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparities, formed last August after a Kenosha cop shot Jacob Blake seven times, concluded its final meeting on police reform. The bipartisan task force, which was supposed to give its recommendations by January and was put together by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) after he ignored Gov. Tony Evers’ calls for immediate reform, is just now finalizing its report.
An aide to task force co-chair Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) said the group’s report with 17 recommendations will be released “very soon.” The task force also formed a working group that will work to define and propose a statewide use of force policy after an impasse left the committee with no consensus on that topic on Tuesday.
Three months after Blake was wounded, the Kenosha County district attorney decided not to file charges against the police officer who shot him. Barnes did not let it go unnoticed in a follow-up Tweet.
“For starters, we need more prosecutors who won’t be afraid to bring charges,” he wrote.
UpNorthNews reporter Julian Emerson contributed to this report.