The jury in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has reached a verdict, the court said on Tuesday afternoon, as tensions are running high across the United States.
The verdict on whether Chauvin is guilty of the murder of George Floyd is expected to be announced shortly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the trial was heard, Al Jazeera reports.
An air of excitement and dread hung over downtown Minneapolis after authorities announced that the jury had reached a decision.
A group of activists waiting for the verdict in downtown Minneapolis chanted, “What do we want? Justice. If we don’t get it? Shut it down.
Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death on May 25 last year, which spurred mass protests around the world.
Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Minneapolis, said the speed with which the jury reached its decision – about a day after their deliberations began on Monday, following closing arguments – sends a message.
“They’re trying to tell us that this was a relatively easy decision, arrived at speedily, with very little rancor,” Hendren said, noting that it appears the jury asked no questions of the judge or attorneys during their deliberations. “In general, when a jury comes down with a verdict this quick, it often favours the prosecution.”
Jury deliberation entered its second day Tuesday morning, after the prosecution and defence gave their closing arguments yesterday.
The biggest surprise came from the nearly three-hour closing from Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson, which was interrupted by Judge Peter Cahill’s call for a lunch break and looks of boredom from the jury, according to court pool reports.
Monday was calm in Minneapolis following days of tumult. A demonstration began at 5pm local time (22:00 GMT) near the Hennepin County Justice Center, which serves as the courthouse, shortly after the jury began deliberations.
The crowd was smaller than in recent nights, with about 2,000 attendees at its peak, but still fervent. The trial was on the minds of protesters.
“Nelson was stalling. He knows he has no case,” Steve Graff, one of the demonstrators, told Al Jazeera in reference to the defence’s lengthy closing argument.