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The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin‘s appeal of his conviction for second-degree murder in the killing of George Floyd during a 2020 arrest.
Floyd’s murder galvanised widespread protests across the country against police brutality, bringing focus to the issue of racial justice.
The justices declined to hear the appeal that Chauvin filed after a Minnesota appellate court upheld his 2021 murder conviction and rejected his request for a new trial.
Chauvin‘s lawyers argued that their client was denied a fair trial in 2021 because of pretrial publicity and concerns for violence in the event of an acquittal.
He was found guilty by a 12-member jury in April 2021 of three charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter following a three-week trial that included testimony from 45 witnesses, including bystanders, police officials, and medical experts.
His attorney urged the Supreme Court to grant the appeal to consider whether jurors had been biased by a desire to avoid the "threat of harm to the community if a guilty verdict was not reached". Chauvin’s attorney also said one juror may have concealed possible bias by failing to disclose during the jury selection process that he had attended "an anti-police ‘George Floyd’ rally".
Attorneys for Minnesota did not respond to Chauvin‘s petition, asking the Supreme Court to hear his appeal.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals in April rebuffed Chauvin‘s appeal, upholding his conviction and rejecting his request for a new trial. Minnesota’s top court in July denied Chauvin‘s request to review the case, prompting his appeal to the US Supreme Court.
In a 25 May 2020 confrontation captured on video by onlookers, Chauvin pushed his knee onto the neck of the 46-year-old man while he and three of his fellow officers were attempting to arrest Floyd.
Floyd was accused of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a grocery store.
A bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of "I can’t breathe". Floyd’s death sparked protests worldwide, some of which turned violent, and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism that is still playing out.
Three other former officers who were at the scene received lesser state and federal sentences for their roles in Floyd’s death.
Additional reporting from the agencies