US President Joe Biden says George Floyd's death was "a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off" for all the world to see the problems with race and policing in the United states.
Biden, speaking after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in Floyd's death last May, says the verdict can be a giant step forward for the country against systemic racism.
Biden is lauding the officers who testified in the trial instead of closing ranks and keeping quiet. He says the verdict sends a strong message, but reform can't stop with just the verdict.
The 12 jurors this morning found Chauvin guilty on all three charges he faced - second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
People elated by the verdict flooded the surrounding streets downtown upon hearing the news. Cars blared their horns, and people ran through traffic, waving banners.
Floyd family members gathered at a Minneapolis conference room could be heard cheering from the next room as each verdict was read.
Bail was revoked for Chauvin and he was led from the court in handcuffs. He will be sentenced in eight weeks.
The maximum sentence for second-degree unintentional murder is 40 years' imprisonment. The maximum sentence for third-degree murder is 25 years' imprisonment. The maximum sentence for second-degree manslaughter is 10 years and/or US$20,000 ($27,893).
Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a white officer, pinned his knee on the 46-year-old Black man's neck for about 9 1/2 minutes in a case that triggered worldwide protests, violence and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the US.
The racially diverse jury deliberated over parts of two days in a city on edge against another outbreak of unrest as President Joe Biden weighed in by saying he believes the case is "overwhelming".
As the verdicts were read, Chauvin's face was obscured by a Covid-19 mask, and little reaction could be seen beyond his eyes darting around the courtroom.
His bail was immediately revoked and he was led away with his hands cuffed behind his back.
As the judge asked jurors if they reached a verdict, a hush fell on the 300-strong crowd in a park adjacent to the courthouse, with people listening to the proceedings on their cellphones. When the final guilty verdict was announced, the crowd roared, many people hugging, some shedding tears.
At the intersection where Floyd was pinned down, a crowd chanted, "One down, three to go!" — a reference to the three other fired Minneapolis police officers facing trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting murder in Floyd's death.
Janay Henry, who lives nearby, said she felt grateful and relieved.
"I feel grounded. I can feel my feet on the concrete," she said, adding that she was looking forward to the "next case with joy and optimism and strength".
An ecstatic Whitney Lewis leaned halfway out a car window in a growing traffic jam of revelers waving a Black Lives Matter flag. "Justice was served," the 32-year-old from Minneapolis said. "It means George Floyd can now rest."
The verdict was read in a courthouse ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire and patrolled by National Guard troops, in a city on edge against another round of unrest — not just because of the Chauvin case but because of the deadly police shooting of a young Black man, Daunte Wright, in a Minneapolis suburb April 11.
The jurors' identities were kept secret and will not be released until the judge decides it is safe to do so.
Floyd, 46, died May 25 after being arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market. He panicked, pleaded that he was claustrophobic and struggled with police when they tried to put him in a squad car. They put him on the ground instead.
The centerpiece of the case was the excruciating bystander video of Floyd gasping repeatedly, "I can't breathe" and onlookers yelling at Chauvin to stop as the officer pressed his knee on or close to Floyd's neck for what authorities say was 9 1/2 minutes. Floyd slowly went silent and limp.
Prosecutors played the footage at the earliest opportunity, during opening statements, with Jerry Blackwell telling the jury: "Believe your eyes." And it was shown over and over, analysed one frame at a time by witnesses on both sides.
In the wake of Floyd's death, demonstrations and scattered violence broke out in Minneapolis, around the country and beyond. The furor also led to the removal of Confederate statues and other offensive symbols such as Aunt Jemima.
In the months that followed, numerous states and cities restricted the use of force by police, revamped disciplinary systems or subjected police departments to closer oversight.
The "Blue Wall of Silence" that often protects police accused of wrongdoing crumbled after Floyd's death: the Minneapolis police chief quickly called it "murder" and fired all four officers, and the city reached a staggering US$27 million settlement with Floyd's family as jury selection was under way.
Police-procedure experts and law enforcement veterans inside and outside the Minneapolis department, including the chief, testified for the prosecution that Chauvin used excessive force and went against his training.
Medical experts for the prosecution said Floyd died of asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, because his breathing was constricted by the way he was held down on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind him, a knee on his neck and his face jammed against the ground.
Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson called a police use-of-force expert and a forensic pathologist to help make the case that Chauvin acted reasonably against a struggling suspect and that Floyd died because of an underlying heart condition and his illegal drug use.
Floyd had high blood pressure, an enlarged heart and narrowed arteries, and fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in his system.
Under the law, police have certain leeway to use force and are judged according to whether their actions were "reasonable" under the circumstances.
The defence also tried to make the case that Chauvin and the other officers were hindered in their duties by what they perceived as a growing, hostile crowd.
Chauvin did not testify, and all that the jury or the public ever heard by way of an explanation from him came from a police body-camera video after an ambulance had taken Floyd away. Chauvin told a bystander: "We gotta control this guy 'cause he's a sizable guy ... and it looks like he's probably on something."
The prosecution's case also included tearful testimony from onlookers who said the police kept them back when they protested what was happening. Eighteen-year-old Darnella Frazier, who shot the crucial video, said Chauvin just gave the bystanders a "cold" and "heartless" stare.
She and others said they felt a sense of helplessness and lingering guilt from witnessing Floyd's slow-motion death.
"It's been nights I stayed up, apologising and apologising to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life," Frazier testified, while the 19-year-old cashier at the neighbourhood market, Christopher Martin, lamented that "this could have been avoided" if only he had rejected the suspect $20 bill.
To make Floyd more than a crime statistic in the eyes of the jury, the prosecution called to the stand his girlfriend, who told the story of how they met and how they struggled with addiction to opioids, and his younger brother Philonise. He recalled how Floyd helped teach him to catch a football and made "the best banana mayonnaise sandwiches".