Former Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter on Tuesday in the death of George Floyd, the black man who was pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck.
The case set off a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the US.
The verdict arrived after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days.
It was read late in the afternoon in a city on edge against the possibility of more unrest like that that erupted last spring.
Chauvin was convicted all of three charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
His 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.
Sentencing will be in two months.
When the final guilty verdict was announced, a crowd outside the courtroom roared, many people hugging, some shedding tears.
At the intersection where Floyd was pinned down, another crowd chanted, “One down, three to go!,” in 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.
The courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers were brought in ahead of the verdict. Some businesses boarded up with plywood.
Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a 45-year-old now-fired white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe and onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off.
The jury was made up of six white people and six Black or multiracial people.
The city has been on edge in recent days — not just over the Chauvin case but over the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in the nearby Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, President Joe Biden weighed in by saying he believes the case is “overwhelming.”
He said that he had spoken to Floyd’s family on Monday and “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling.”
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
The president has repeatedly denounced Floyd’s death but previously stopped short of commenting on the trial itself.
Other politicians and ordinary citizens also offered their opinion as the jury was deliberating.
“It shouldn’t be really even questioned whether there will be an acquittal or a verdict that doesn’t meet the scale of the crime that was committed,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, said in Brooklyn Center. The congresswoman said the Chauvin case looks open-and-shut.
Guilty verdicts could mark a turning point in the fight for racial equality, she said.
“We are holding on to one another for support. Hopefully, this verdict will come soon and the community will start the process of healing,” Omar said.