Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Derek Chauvin Guilty On All Three Charges; Derek Chauvin Transferred To Minnesota Correctional Facility. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 20, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. This is what justice looks like tonight around the country and on the corner where George Floyd was killed, was murdered by a former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin almost a year ago.
And this is how it looked and sounded as Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY: We, the jury in the above- entitled matter as to count one: unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty.
This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April 2021 at 1:44 p.m., signed juror foreperson, juror number 19.
CAHILL: Same caption, verdict count two: we, the jury in the above- entitled matter as to count two, third degree murder perpetrating an imminently dangerous act find the defendant guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April, 2021 at 1:45 p.m. signed by jury foreperson juror number 19.
CAHILL: Same caption verdict count three: we, the jury in the above- entitled matter as to count three, second degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk find the defendant guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's how it looked and sounded. Guilty on all three counts including second degree murder, and then after hearing the Judge revoke his bail, Derek Chauvin was led away in handcuffs to wait sentencing.
This is what justice looks like tonight in Minneapolis. Now, believe your own eyes and the video, that's what the prosecution said in closing arguments and jurors did.
Prosecutor said George Floyd did not die because his heart was too big, but because Derek Chauvin's was too small. The jury agreed and delivered a verdict that speaks powerfully tonight.
First and foremost, the Floyd family as seen here on ABC News reacting to it. The verdict speaks as well to the witnesses and the guilt they said they felt of being unable to stop a killing taking place before their eyes.
In rendering their verdict, the jury helped ease some of that burden. The verdict also lifted the sense of impending doom we've all been conditioned by generations of experience to feel each time a jury deliberates.
Fencing goes up and troops mobilize.
Late today, President Biden and Vice President Harris, herself a former prosecutor and State Attorney General spoke to the significance of this day and this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice.
This verdict brings us a step closer. And the fact is, we still have work to do.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There can never be any safe harbor for hate in America. I've said it many times. The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years, a tug of war between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.
At our best, the American ideal wins out.
So we can't leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done. We have to look at it. We have to look at it as we did for those nine minutes and 29 seconds. We have to listen, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe." Those were George Floyd's last words.
We can't let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away, we can't turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.
It's my hope and prayer and we live up to the legacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A significant night and a busy hour ahead. I want to start with CNN's Miguel Marquez. What's the reaction from the community to this verdict there right now? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is one of absolute elation. You know, I spoke to one person earlier tonight who is down here and they said look, I was expecting to have three guilty verdicts. But it was such a shock to hear it because we never hear it.
I want to show you what the crowd looks like right now in downtown Minneapolis here. They've been marching around the city. It is a feeling of absolute celebration down here.
They're right in the shadow of the Hennepin County Government Center where that verdict, those verdicts were handed down today. I want to come back over here and let you listen to a little of what they're saying right now.
The chant they were just chanting was "Stand up. Fight back." And that is the sensibility that you get from people here today that this was a step.
This is something that was expected, but so shocking, but also represents a step -- a step in the right direction, not just for George Floyd, but for others.
And not just the extreme cases where people die, but in those cases where it is those interactions, those little interactions between law enforcement and people of color like Lieutenant Nazario in Virginia that we've seen recently.
MARQUEZ: That is the sensibility here. There is great expectation now about where all of this goes and great excitement about the verdict -- that the verdicts that were reached today.
And now, it is the next step. Now it is Daunte Wright. There is now a gathering up at the Brooklyn Center Police Station as well.
There is great hope that this is the beginning of something new for racial justice in America -- Anderson.
COOPER: Miguel Marquez, I appreciate it. We'll come back to you throughout the hour.
Before addressing the nation, President Biden spoke by phone with members of the Floyd family and family attorney, Benjamin Crump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least, God now, there's some justice. And you know, I think of -- I think of Gianna's comment, "My dad is going to change the world." He is going to start to change now. He's is about the change now.
You've been incredible. You're an incredible family. I wish I were there just to put my arms around you. I'm standing here, and Cedric, we've been talking and we've been watching every second of this and the Vice President. All of us, and I'm just -- I -- we're all so relieved. Not just one verdict, but all three. Guilty on three counts.
And it's really important. I'm anxious to see you guys. I really am.
We're going to get a lot more done. We're going to get police -- we're going to do a lot. We're going to stay at it until we get it done.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: Hopefully, this is the momentum for the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act to get passed and have you sign.
BIDEN: You've got it, pal. That and a lot more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And joining us now, Shareeduh Tate, George Floyd's cousin and President of the George Floyd Foundation. Has it sunk in for you at this moment?
SHAREEDUH TATE, GEORGE FLOYD'S COUSIN AND PRESIDENT OF THE GEORGE FLOYD FOUNDATION: It's still sinking in. I'll tell you, it's been a long journey. And it's definitely what we've been praying for. And just to hear the first count, and then the second one, and the third one is just overwhelming for us to hear. And finally, to be at a place where we feel justice has truly been served.
COOPER: Did you -- you know, you and I have spoken a number of times that I know early on, you said you were pessimistic -- pessimistically optimistic, I believe was the term. Did you wake up today believing that he would be found guilty on all counts?
TATE: I did. I mean, I always still had that -- just that little bit in the back of my head knowing that I didn't have any control over what the jurors were going to, you know, the deliberation would bring about, but I said to myself, and I said to others that the sooner that they come back, the better the outcome is going to be for us.
And so once we got the call that the verdict was in, in my mind, I felt like we were going to get convictions.
COOPER: And I'm wondering when you saw the man who killed George Floyd, who murdered him, led away in handcuffs, what was that like to see?
TATE: That was -- it was wonderful. I was glad to see that. You know, him actually going into begin to have some accountability for the actions that he took on that day.
You know, I don't know that he would ever acknowledge that he did something wrong. I certainly never saw any shift in his demeanor, or, you know, any indication that there was any remorse for what had happened.
And so today, it was -- it was a good day for our family to be able to see him once and for all being held accountable for what he did on May 25th, 2020. COOPER: And Shareeduh, as we saw President Biden promise change in his call to your family today. To you, what does that change look like? What impact does this verdict have?
TATE: I think it's the beginning. You know, it's -- you know, we celebrate the victory today, but we don't stop there. You know, we are committed to moving forward in having some true change. So that, you know, justice is not just for George, but it's for all that our -- you know, our children and other children and people of color don't have to experience this, that there are no more hashtags and that we truly see justice for all.
COOPER: And in terms of sentencing, do you have a sentence that you feel is appropriate?
TATE: Well, you're asking me, I mean, I don't know that there is a sentence that would really, you know, make us happy per se, but I think whatever the maximum sentence is, is what we'd like to see happen.
COOPER: Shareeduh Tate, if you will just stay with us. I want to bring in one of the family attorneys, Antonio Romanucci.
Tony, what was your reaction when the verdict was read?
ANTONIO ROMANUCCI, ATTORNEY TO GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: Well, Anderson, I was in the room with the family and friends when it happened and it was a feeling like I've never myself felt before or seen before.
To call it exhilaration. Its ecstaticness is an understatement. Because who knew that the murder of George Floyd, you know, less than a year ago, would really be a hinge point, a turning point for police reform in America and for what it means for racism.
We've turned the corner, and I think it was an incredible sigh of relief and joy, eternal joy, wait for years or decades, hundreds of years -- hundred years for this moment. It was incredible.
COOPER: Tony, I know Speaker Pelosi also called the Floyd family today. What did she say? What was discussed?
ROMANUCCI: She did call, Anderson. And I have to tell you, and I'll tell you exactly what I said, you know, on the call and the way that she came across.
Her voice was one of calm. It was reason. It was soothing. It was reassuring.
And it was moments before we found out that the verdict had come in, so she was almost like the harbinger. She was, you know the dove that flew over the Floyd family, letting them know that it's going to be okay, because that's exactly what she brought to the phone call. That it was going to be okay. And then we -- and then they were all praying, and she mentioned Congress, everybody that she knew that had a position in Washington. And of course, we heard, you know, from the President, and it's just wonderful to hear that leadership is doing what it's supposed to do, and that's bleeding.
COOPER: Antonio, I know you also spoke to a member of Daunte Wright's family, who -- Daunte Wright shot and killed by police just over a week ago in in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
ROMANUCCI: I did, Anderson. Last night, I spent some time with this just beautiful, lovely young girl, Lomaia, and you know, I'm not embarrassed to tell you that we broke down in each other arms in tears over the death of her cousin.
It was a very emotional moment, and that's because she said something that is so true, not only for herself, but for everybody in this country naturally for anybody who lives on this earth. And she said that we are all God's children. And I promised her after she said that, I promised her that I would repeat her words, and I did.
COOPER: Shareeduh, it's extraordinary when you think about the history of so many people of color in this country who were killed, tortured, jobs taken away, countless numbers, impossibly a number too high to count of just daily horrors and insults, which were never videotaped, which were never witnessed, which never had the President of the United States calling the family and apologizing for or sharing their grief in.
And what made this case different is the videotape, which opened the eyes of so many people in this country.
TATE: Yes, I would agree with that. I mean, I don't think anyone can deny what we saw, what everybody saw, and that's been the running theme all along.
For us, it is like, are you expecting us to not acknowledge what we see. It was clear that he was murdered to us and the jury, you know, sent the message today that it was clear to them as well.
COOPER: And that's what the prosecutor said in the closing arguments. This case is exactly what you thought. It's what you felt in your gut. It's what you knew in your heart, talking about when people witnessed that video.
Shareeduh Tate, I appreciate you being with us and Tony Romanucci, thank you so much on what has been an extraordinary day.
Before we bring in our own legal team and our law enforcement team, I want to read a portion of the initial statement from the Minneapolis Police Department on George Floyd's killing. It's title -- this was the initial statement they made before the videotape was out, before the world had seen what happened.
They said -- it is titled, "Man Dies after Medical Incident during Police Interaction." Our Omar Jimenez pointed this out to us earlier today. No mention of a knee on the neck or anything else captured on camera. Instead, there's a bland and untruthful sentence which reads: "Officers were able to get the suspect, put the handcuffs and noted, he appeared to be suffering medical distress." That would have been George Floyd's epitaph, if that dishonest account had been the last and not the first word on what happened.
Joining us now, two senior legal analysts and former Federal prosecutors Preet Bharara and Laura Coates; also Charles Ramsey, CNN law enforcement analyst and former top cop in Philadelphia and D.C.
Laura, just in terms of possible jail time, prison time, what is this officer now facing?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know the charges are with the highest one, normally it is 40 years and 25 years and 10 years. But again, it's a sentencing grid based on his criminal history. We are looking at a presumptive sentence, they call it, of about, I believe, 12 or more years.
But again, there are now -- there's the aggravating factor stage going now, where the Judge will now look at the fact that this happened in front of a child, that Floyd was a particularly vulnerable person, and the power dynamic of a police officer doing this to a civilian.
And the judge can now take into consideration on that sentencing guideline that has that full range these aggravating factors to decide whether it should go to the maximum or lower to the minimum mandatory in this instance, and so along that range.
So right now, we are a few weeks out from the Judge making that decision, and then about eight weeks out, we're told about the final sentence and what that will be.
And in the meantime, he is going through what's called a pre-sentence report that talks to Derek Chauvin, asked about things like remorse, ways in which to rehabilitate him. He is not going away for life, and so we always have to have a way to have a holistic sentence to re- welcome someone into society, and that begins at this particular stage, even after a conviction.
COOPER: Preet, were you expecting this today?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it depends on when you're asking me. If you had asked me a year ago what I expected 11 months there to be a guilty verdict on multiple counts, including murder two, I'm not sure what my reaction would have been.
Having then seen the trial, Laura and I were talking about this before we started taping, you know, having had the experience and having seen how powerful the evidence is and the videotape, as you keep talking about correctly, and as the prosecutors kept talking about correctly, it's very strong and the defense was not very strong. And then when I heard that there was a verdict already, I wasn't expecting a verdict today, frankly. I didn't prepare for it in the various ways you do if you're in this business.
It was quick, you know, three counts, multiple elements for each count, medical testimony that they had to sift through. But when you heard there was a verdict after about 10 hours of deliberation, with no intervening questions, it didn't seem like there was any argumentative nature between and among the jurors.
That to me was a sign that we were going to get guilt on all three. Of course, you never know, because there are unusual verdicts. We've seen it before in big cases, and in small cases. I've seen it.
We tried a case against Ahmed Ghailani who was responsible for terrorist actions in Africa. He got convicted on one count, a very powerful case. So you never know.
But given all of those factors, it was not ultimately a surprise to me, because the case was so strong
COOPER: For you, seeing Derek Chauvin out in handcuffs, what was that like?
COATES: Well, I juxtapose it to who we also saw led off in handcuffs and that was George Floyd. And had he been let off with the same level of dignity that Derek Chauvin was afforded as somebody who had the process of trial, had the due process then we wouldn't even be here today.
And when you think about all it would have taken to not be where we are right now, all it would have taken, the idea of leading a man, not putting him in a prone position, not manipulating his handcuffs, not pressing your knee to his neck, not ignoring the beseeching of trying to get him off the neck, Derek Chauvin would not have been led away today.
And I go back to what you talked about in the beginning with Omar Jimenez which he talked about, if we didn't have this videotape, there is no doubt in my mind, this would have come down to a medical incident. He would remain nameless and not somebody's name, who would have been the first thing that the closing began with.
Remember they said, "His name was George P. Floyd, born on October 14, 1973." This began and ended with somebody having the ability to say the name, to be able to be led off with dignity, and that was denied. And we saw what it looks like when you get the opportunity in a court of law.
COOPER: Chief Ramsey, a statement like that an initial statement from police. I mean, how does that get written and put out? Like who decides that?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, unfortunately, that's what happens. I mean, what they had was a written report, probably from Chauvin and the other officers that were there. And at the time, that's all they had.
And, you know, a good friend of mine, the late, John Timoney used to always say the first story is never going to wind up being the actual story. You know, facts are going to change. That's why you have investigations and to put out a statement that strong as if you have knowledge of what actually occurred is a mistake, because you wait until you've got an investigation into the matter.
COOPER: You've obviously spent a career in law enforcement, most notably, obviously in D.C. and Philadelphia. What did you take away from today?
RAMSEY: Well, you know, I kind of go back to the prosecution's closing arguments when he said something that really struck me that this isn't an anti-police trial, this is a pro-police trial.
And I think about all the officers, many of which I know -- knew personally that died in a line of duty, killed in the line of duty, officers that serve every day with honor and this supports them.
It supports what they do every single day. They don't want to see guys like Derek Chauvin in the department.
COOPER: But you believe the system itself needs to change?
RAMSEY: Well, there's no question there needs to be reform, and this is an opportunity. This -- it would be a huge mistake, if after this, we somehow take a sigh of relief and say, okay, well, things are getting better.
No, this is one case, one incident. We still have to continue to push tort reform. But I would argue not just in policing, the entire criminal justice system needs to be reviewed, a comprehensive review of the entire system hasn't been done in decades, and it's time.
It's a good place to start with the police, but it shouldn't start in there. We just -- we're just one part of a much larger system.
COOPER: Do you agree with that? I mean, both of you have a lot of experience in the legal system.
COATES: I mean, I have to paraphrase the late Great Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you don't put away the umbrella because you're not getting wet in the rain any longer. You don't stop with the pursuit of justice, because you've achieved some modicum of it.
And this is a very important day, but you're also to talk about what was underlying this entire case, this Graham v. Connor decision, the whole reason we talk about the reasonableness of force, how we judge the use of force through the lens of a reasonable officer, not by a civilian or anyone else.
This is a theory that until now had not been largely tested by a lot of prosecutors who are often afraid to try to be able to overcome that hurdle of saying, you give an officer the benefit of the doubt because of the split second decisions they must make.
And because of that, we don't afford them the opportunity, we don't have Monday morning quarterbacks who judge with 2020 hindsight. But this, as they pointed out, was nine minutes and 29 seconds, not a split second among them.
And so if you're only going to judge every officer involved excessive force case, on the premise of a split second, and extend the benefit of the doubt giving them carte blanche, you will never see the change and you will put away that umbrella and you will get wet in every single downpour.
COOPER: Preet, do you see, I mean, a real change coming from this?
BHARARA: I do because I think the memory of George Floyd in the video is seared in the brains of every American, every right-minded American and we saw the protests over the last year, but I have a worry to what Laura just said, that in this case, the proper verdict was reached, in my view and you have a guilty verdict on all three counts and lots of people breathe a sigh of relief. I'm one of those people.
But you worry, I think a little bit on the part of some folks who don't like change point to that and say, you know what, the system worked. There's one bad apple, the Police Chief testified against him, the longest serving veteran in that police department testified against him.
Look, see, we can deal with bad apples.
The way I think about it now that the trial is over and the suspense is over is that was really, really, really a strong case. And to judge the success of the system, based on the guilty verdicts in this case doesn't seem to be right even though it is true that it seems justice is not often gotten in cases like this, which is what makes it special.
What's weird about the whole system is that this verdict today actually shouldn't seem special because it was really preordained in my view. It was competently prosecuted. And it was by the facts of the case, it wasn't split second decision. It was nine and a half minutes on the neck of George Floyd.
So we should take comfort in some relief from the verdict, but I hope it doesn't, you know, slow people down in thinking about what the other things that we need to do.
COOPER: Well, Chief Ramsey, I mean, that's I think why what you said is so important that this is not just, you know, the few bad apples argument that you're making, though obviously there are many, the vast majority of police are not like Derek Chauvin in any way, but that the system itself is -- it is bigger than just the police officers.
RAMSEY: Yes. I mean, you know, if you see a lot of bad apples laying on the ground, at some point, you have to look at the tree. I mean, you know, there are systemic issues here that have to be addressed. They won't be fixed overnight. There's no question about that. But there's a ray of hope.
I mean, you know, the President of the National FOP even made a statement --
COOPER: The Fraternal Order of Police.
RAMSEY: The Fraternal Order of Police even came out and said, listen, when we looked at this, we knew it wasn't right. He's had a trial. We agree with the outcome.
I mean, that by itself, which may seem small to some people, but I've been dealing with unions for a long time. And believe me, I've run into some that never saw police officers do anything wrong, and it's very difficult to take disciplinary action against a police officer.
At some point in time, we've got to work together to rid our ranks of those people who do not belong. You know, I am proud to have been an officer. I remember law enforcement for as long as I have, you know, little over 50 years, and I've seen the good in police, but there's a dark side, too, and we have to look at that and we have to figure out how do we -- how do we correct that? How do we deal with people who just have no business with a badge and a gun.
RAMSEY: If he hadn't been convicted, he could have gone to his union and they could have taken the case to arbitration for him to be rehired.
COOPER: Preet, just in terms of what the other three -- the three other officers, they are going to be facing trial together in August. Does this change anything for their case?
BHARARA: Well, I think it changes how people will make predictions about that case. I think if Chauvin had been either acquitted or there had been a mistrial, you know, he is charged with a higher level offense that would tell you that maybe those three officers have more of a fighting chance.
I think this shows you that there are jurors in the community who, you know, when presented evidence by extremely, extremely competent prosecutors can get a conviction, but the jury that's going to be picked in the next trial is going to be asked a lot of questions in voir dire about how familiar they are with the Chauvin trial, whether they can be fair.
And so people who might be affected by this first trial in which there was a guilty verdict, if the system works properly, and then we know, you know, that doesn't always should be screened out of the next trial. So you know, as a legal matter, it shouldn't make a difference.
COOPER: Preet Bharara, Laura Coates, Charles Ramsey, thanks. We're going to come back to our team here shortly.
Coming up next, what it was like actually inside the courtroom when the verdict was read. And later, Congresswoman Val Demings, a co-sponsor of the police reform legislation bearing George Floyd's name.
COOPER: You're looking a lot of pictures tonight from Minneapolis after the conviction on all three counts of former officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
CNN's Sara Sidner joins us now. She just arrived outside Cup Foods and what's now known as George Floyd Square, which is the site where he was killed. Sara?
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Anderson, you know, this is a special place for people here. There are people that have been here for many, many, many months, almost a year, taking care of this square. On my right, there is community meetings and that happens every day here, where they're teaching people different things about what the law is, when you're out protesting, for example, or sometimes how to tend the garden.
And I'll bring you through just to give you a look at it now, because I know Anderson, you remember what it looked like, back in May, after May 25th, when it started to be built that it has grown into, you know, a whole square truly, if you look, if I can come through here, and I apologize, if you look into the square that is a community garden that was built by a couple of different people.
And then the whole community pitched in and they keep that up. That was -- this was an intersection by the way that was not here. None of this was here, that -- this you see an artist made. And all the posters and art have been brought over time to show their support, not only for George Floyd but for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and you'll see many different names. That is what everyone remembers the George Ford Memorial there.
And I just want to take you around and show you the Cup Foods. Now just a few feet ahead of me and I'm going to see if I can sneak through here, excuse me, I'm so sorry, I apologize. I'm going to sneak through here and just show you a site that, you know, a lot of people come to see. And if you look just beyond that sign, you will see, you will see the outline of where George Floyd's body was. Maybe it's easier for to see here.
But many people come here to stand in front of that, to pray in front of that, to bring flowers, you see all those flowers there. There's even a greenhouse just beyond it, where they grow flowers so that they can replace these flowers. So that's the scene here, it is more of a scene of relief.
And as you know, as some of the family members said relief and release. And you can tell people are very calm. They are very -- some of them are very thankful for the verdicts that came out. And this is a peaceful gathering of people who recognize that they look at the justice system and say, OK, in their minds that the justice system got it right this time. Anderson.
COOPER: The people you spoke to today, who were there, how -- were they surprised at the verdict?
SIDNER: You know, it's interesting, I've asked a lot of people that question, you know, did that surprise you? Or did you feel like you thought you knew what was coming. And for many folks, they said they wouldn't have been surprised if it hadn't been not guilty, because so many times when it comes to police officers versus the public, and particularly black men, it isn't guilty.
And so this time, it really was more of a feeling of relief. They knew that it was a possibility. Partly because of the length of time the jury was out. Jury was out just over 10 hours. And there was no questions. And there was video and that video, really in people's mind.
They couldn't see any other way around. And they couldn't see anyone seeing another explanation for what happened to George Floyd. And indeed, the jury decided that that is exactly what happened to him that he was murdered.
And that's why they came back with a guilty verdict on all three counts, which means by the way, if there are aggravating factors that they prove in the next phase of this, that, you know, Derek Chauvin the former police officer who used to wear a badge can now be in prison for 75 years. So that's the maximum amount of time and it is unlikely often that you would get that like this, but the potential amount of time he could spend now in prison.
COOPER: Sara Sidner, appreciate it of the many reactions of (INAUDIBLE) today. There was this from the teenager who recorded the cellphone video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck and posted it on Facebook igniting ultimately, the protest. She also testified at the trial. This is what Darnella Frazier posted on Facebook.
I just cried so hard. This last hour my heart was beating so fast I was so anxious, anxiety bussing through the roof. But to know guilty on all three charges. Thank you, God, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, George Floyd. We did it. Justice has been served.
Joining me now from Minneapolis is Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. Governor, thanks for being with us. Two days after George Floyd was killed, you said the lack of humanity in the video made me physically ill and it's even more difficult to understand. That video taken by Darnella Frazier, what's your reaction to the verdict today?
GOV. TIM WALZ (D-MN): Well thanks Anderson for having me on. And thanks for Darnella Frazier. The humanity that stood on the side of what's now George Floyd Square and taking that video I think many folks know is maybe the only reason that Derek Chauvin will go to prison. So, I'd like to say it was a sense of relief. But I feel very strongly
that this was a very, very small first step. When you were asking folks what they expected of this. If you asked white Minnesotans they thought it would be an absolute conviction. If you have black Minnesotans their history showed them that it wouldn't be.
And so, I think for a state I'm incredibly proud of. We ranked near the top and so many things well-being life expectancy, homeownership education unless you're black, and that has been laid bare to the world. And I think for many of us, it's a feeling like, OK, this happened. Now the work really begins.
COOPER: And it is just that stark. If you're white, it's one existence. If you're black, it's another.
WALZ: Yes, and this is the North. This is progressive, Minnesota. This is the home of Hubert Humphrey, (INAUDIBLE) Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone. And we do rank we have the highest life expectancies. We have personal incomes that are high homeownership, education, all those things. But when you disaggregate that, we're at the bottom.
And I think that the insidious thing is, is that most white Minnesotans don't know that. They see a quality of life, that seems really good, and they don't see what we're leaving behind. And it starts before birth. It starts with black mothers dying in childbirth at a rate that's unacceptable. So this is -- no, it's not just Minnesota's issue, but Minnesota is was laid bare, because if you don't fix these things, you end up with George Floyd being killed, you end up with Daunte Wright being killed.
So, they're not going to get a whole lot more chances at this. You saw what it poured into the streets. And I have to tell you, as governor, being prepared, what might have happened, had this not been a guilty verdict, like most of us thought and knew it should be is terrifying. And that's because of this anger. We can't continue to live like this. We need to fix these things.
COOPER: I understand he spoke with President Biden after the verdict, I don't know. Would you mind sharing details of that?
WALZ: Sure. And I think most of us who know President Biden, he's a man of compassion and empathy. And I could hear in his voice, it was a sense of relief. But I was really glad to hear him say whatever you need, we need to fix this.
And I think what he means fix this is we can't have black children expelled from our schools at that rate 10 times higher than white children or not graduating, or homeownership, or all of those things that, that make life worth living and the things that we aspire to.
And I think the President expressing that concern. And I just to be honest, Anderson, he and I both we expressed a sense of relief because I feared for our country, not just Minneapolis, but across the country had what all of us knew needed to happen, wouldn't have.
So, I'm grateful to Keith Ellison, our great Attorney General, and I'm, I'm grateful again, I'll go back to Ms. Frazier in those witnesses, they've had to relive that horror over and over and over again, and they did it. And I'm grateful.
COOPER: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about the stark reality in which race is the dividing line between success and or what, where you are on, you know, on the happiness index in Minnesota, if you're at the top or if you're at the bottom or income or health, health inequalities. You don't hear a lot of governors of states, talking about that division in their state.
How do you and I know your Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan tweeted over the weekend, I'm grappling with the stark reality Minnesota is place where it's not safe to be black. This is the essence of an emergency we have. How does change come not just in Minnesota, but elsewhere? I mean, how do you make --
COOPER: -- white America see what you're seeing?
WALZ: Well, no Senate governor speaks from personal reality. She's the first indigenous woman to ever be elected to executive office in this country as a member of the wider Band of Ojibwe. And so, she has a reality that differs from a white man. And I think we are very proud of it. Here, it's probably more stark than anyplace else, because it truly is, in many cases, from first to 50th (ph), depending on where you're at.
And it is again, I'd say it's that kind of insidious form that that people just don't see it and there's this thing that we don't want to talk about and when it stuff. It's my responsibility to do this. I understand what this privilege looks like. I understand what the potential here looks like. But I also understand is your -- if we leave people behind all of us will go down. When you have these types of income inequalities, education, inequalities, healthcare inequalities, whether you're trying to do it or not, and it exists it will bring the entire system down.
And again, I want to be the place and this is -- I'm a school teacher, this is -- that was my profession before I did this. This needs to be a state where every child gets the opportunity to succeed. And that is simply not the case now, and I need to figure out with Minnesotans, how do we fix that?
COOPER: Governor Tim Walz, appreciate your time. Thank you.
WALZ: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER (voice-over): Just ahead, as we continue to watch the crowds gathering in Minneapolis and elsewhere, we'll have a live report from our reporter who is inside the courtroom as the verdicts were read.
Also, a member of Congress and former police chief will join us to discuss her thoughts about this day. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: As we bring you live images from Minneapolis with the crowds turned out in the wake of the jury's decision, we've got breaking news to report. Shortly after the verdict was read guilty on all counts, state authorities say that Derek Chauvin was transferred to a correctional facility.
I'm going to go to Josh Campbell who was in the courtroom as the verdict was read. So Josh, take us back to that moment. The guilty verdict was read by the judge in the court. What did you see?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you know most people will never step foot inside a courtroom, thankfully. And so, you know, to describe how serious an atmosphere it is on any day is warranted. This day especially I can tell you I've never been in a room where the tension was so palpable and it certainly was from beginning to end. Everyone in there focused on what was about to take place.
Now for his part Chauvin sat in front of me and his attorney as well. Just fixated down on the ground, Chauvin staring. At one point his attorney actually tried to get his attention and he almost couldn't snap him out of this gaze. He finally, you know, realized that his attorney was trying to talk to him but no doubt pondering the faith that was to come for him from this jury.
I have to tell you one of the most emotional moments though in that courtroom today came from George Floyd's brother, Philonise, who was seated off to my right he spent almost the entire hearing in prayer from beginning to end. At one point, he looked at Derek Chauvin, another point Derek Chauvin, turned back and look towards him.
But for the most part, he spent the hearing praying and when those verdicts were read, guilty, guilty, guilty, Philonise Floyd had his hands over his head, steepled in the prayer formation, and his hands started shaking uncontrollably. I caught up with him after that, right after the verdict was read. And I asked him, what were you praying for?
He told me he was praying that Chauvin would be found guilty. And his words and this is just so powerful as an African-American, will usually never get justice.
Right after that he received a phone call from President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. I listened into that very moving point there where Biden actually brought up George Floyd's daughter Gianna and said that phrase that now we're also familiar with, Biden says, I can't stop thinking about Gianna saying, Daddy's going to change the world.
An incredibly emotional moving moment throughout from beginning to end, and obviously a trial that we've been fixated and focused on so much. We now have a resolution as we know, guilty on all three counts. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Josh Campbell, appreciate it. Thanks.
Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, a former Orlando Police chief. Has more than two dozen years experience as a police officer.
Congresswoman Demings, thanks for joining us. Shortly after the verdict was delivered, you put out a statement and read in part justice has prevailed. But this is not a happy day. Can you talk about what your feelings are tonight?
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, Anderson, as you've mentioned, I spent 27 years at the Orlando Police Department had the honor of serving as the chief of police. And, you know, working in the criminal justice system for that long with this trial, we all said we wanted justice.
And today justice was served. But due to the actions of a police officer, the actions were inhumane, they were egregious, they were disgraceful. They were inappropriate and deadly. Due to these former officers' actions, George Floyd lost his life. And we're not for those actions, George Floyd would be alive.
And so, justice was served today, justice prevail. That's the good thing. But what makes this day not a happy one is that George Floyd lost his life while in police custody.
COOPER: Didn't, you know, for real, we were talking to, you know, Chief Charles Ramsey, who we have here on set who was talking about how, you know, there are systemic problems, and not just with police, but in the criminal justice system. And, you know, the -- our lawmakers, our society needs to take a long and hard and serious look, and revisit and rethink an awful lot about our criminal justice system. Do you see that as possible? Is there support to that?
DEMINGS: You know, Anderson I do. But it's not just in the criminal justice system, I think it is in all systems. You know, we talk about holding America to its promise as it pertains to law enforcement. And we will do that, you know, this week, seeing the police chief to lieutenant the training officer all testify that that's not our policy, nor is that our ethics and our values. That's a good start. So that's a roadmap for other police officers to follow, to step up and do the right thing.
So as we deal with policing, whether it's through legislation, the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, working on -- looking at policies and other initiatives, I've talked to chiefs and sheriffs and ask them to fix their own brokenness. Don't wait for legislation, fix your own brokenness.
However, we also need to look at discrimination in all systems, we have to deal with poverty, we have to deal with high unemployment rates, low wages, we have to deal with substandard education, we must deal with drug addiction and mental illness. Until we get serious about those quality-of-life issues. Fixing systemic issues in one system does not take us where we need to go. We need to hold America to its promise in all systems.
COOPER: And as, you know, I know the family, George Floyd's expressed to President Biden his hope that he's going to soon sign the -- or be able to sign the George Floyd Policing act. You mentioned that you're an original co-sponsor of the bill. It's passed in the House, it stalled in the Senate. Do you think the verdict creates any kind of momentum to get to 60 votes that's needed to get it through?
DEMINGS: You know, Anderson, we always seem to get yet another opportunity to step up and do better and do the right thing. America and frankly, I think around the world, people have been grieving now for over a year. It's been a tough year. We're all exhausted.
But the verdict today sent a strong message. You know, it sent a message that we're, you know, we may not be the America that we need to be. But the verdict today signals that we can be that America that we are supposed to be.
And so, I am hoping that the Senate sees this today's verdict, this strong verdict guilty on all charges. They will see this as a springboard if you will, for them to present the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act and pass it and get it done. Is it going to solve all of our issues?
No, it will not. But it is certainly a great step in the right direction. And we deserve it. Good law enforcement officers deserve it. And America deserves it.
COOPER: Congresswoman Val Demings, I appreciate it. Thanks.
I want to bring back our legal and law enforcement analyst, Preet Bharara, Laura Coates and Charles Ramsey.
It's interesting Laura to hear Josh Campbell talking about being inside that courtroom. I mean, the tension of it, and just the seriousness of it.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it's a very somber place, people have thought that you might react and you might cheer in a courtroom, oftentimes, but you know, the weight of it all. And remember the prosecutors, they often obviously represent the family, but they're in the state of Minnesota.
And they know they're on behalf of the people of the community. And they know that justice is not always a celebration, even when it leads to a conviction, because they are aware that somebody is going to lose their freedom, that there are issues on appeal that might not be over for them. Now there's a conviction, there's always the potential the defense comes to preserve there.
But you also recognize the moment of the humanity of watching somebody realize that their life has been taken from them in a way. And that's a really interesting thought when you consider that he was there for taking someone else's life. But prosecutors never forget this moment that in both sides, there are really never any winners, there is justice.
And there's the idea of the cost benefit analysis, if at all, there's the pursuit of it. But the way it's defined is very surprising to so many people, because as they talked about, the family does not get to have their loved one back, there is still work to be done.
And justice feels at times to be very hard to understand your emotions through it and prosecutions are aware of that the jury is aware of that, the judge is aware of that, we saw how stoic through the trial. I would dare to say Chauvin was probably out of fear, probably out of nerves, probably out of knowing and hearing the way the case against him.
And also because he recognized that at the end of this journey, there was a likelihood of exactly what happened. And for him, he saw it play out and was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom as now a murderer.
COOPER: Preet, somebody who has been a police officer, does that affect where they're sent for prison? Or is that not taken into account?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Generally speaking, in the federal system, at least I'm not familiar how it works in Minnesota. Many factors are taken into account by the Bureau of Prisons and the equivalent institution in Minnesota will take into account various issues and considerations and factors, including how vulnerable the person is in a particular population, including if you have a progressive prison assignment system, how close they might be to family. It's taken into account, but I'm not sure it's a pretty dispositive thing.
COOPER: And just in terms of, you know, Laura was talking before about the possible sentences, the aggravating circumstances that prosecutors are bringing up as well, what would you expect for a length of sentence?
BHARARA: So, often it's the case that particular judges have reputations for whether there are sentences or not, I don't know the reputation of this particular judge. He didn't tip his hand much, generally speaking throughout the trial. I think it's important that it be a lengthy sentence. I think, you know, there are two inflection points here.
One was guilt. But, you know, often the relief that people feel upon a guilty verdict can be eviscerated by a judge who later, you know, slap someone with a light sentence. And it's a lot of discretion. There are guidelines, as we've talked about in the federal system, and in this in various state systems.
But the judge has a lot of discretion. Just because it's the case that the guideline suggests 12 and a half years or the maximum is 40 years on the murder to count. Does it mean that the judge will impose that and I think it's actually going to be my guess is, it'll be a pretty severe sentence, because of the severity of the conduct and the lack of remorse and the, you know, the nonchalance which with which Derek Chauvin committed the crime in this moment in this summation by the prosecutors where they talked about the end difference where he had the knee in the back of the neck and was sort of casually picking pebbles out of the car tire.
All of those things go into the decision making of a judge as to how as a crime it is. And so I expected a lengthy sentence.
COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) the message do you think tonight's this sends to law enforcement?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it sends a positive message for the men and women that are serving with honor every single day. I mean, they don't want to Derek Chauvin's in their ranks anymore than you do. But, you know, unfortunately, you know, the profession is being painted with a very broad brush right now.
So these are very tough times, believe me. But it takes that sometimes to be able to get through it. I mean, it's going to be rough and it's going to be rough for a while. But I think will emerge and once again, be able to honestly say that this is a noble profession and everyone agrees with that. It's not just police saying it, others say it.
COOPER: Chief Ramsey, Preet Bharara, appreciate it, Laura Coates. We'll be right back. More ahead.
COOPER: Want to leave you with a split screen tonight on one side crowds and streets across America celebrating what they see as justice. On the other the words the untruthful words, some of which we mentioned earlier, but it certainly bears repeating about how this all started.
This is the original statement from Minneapolis police after Floyd's death last year, quote, man dies after medical incident during police interaction. No mention of an officer's knee to Floyd's neck for almost 10 minutes just that Floyd was handcuffed, suffered medical distress and the police called for an ambulance. Almost 11 months later, the world knows what actually happened.
The news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."