George Floyd's family describes 'tears of joy' after guilty verdict

The news that Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts Tuesday for killing George Floyd sparked emotional reactions from those whose lives have been upended by police violence and from those fighting to hold police accountable through the court system.

Rodney Floyd, George’s brother, described “tear of joy” upon hearing the news of the guilty conviction.

“I’m so emotional that no family in history ever got this far,” he said on MSNBC just moments after jury announced it found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. “We got a chance to go to trial and took it all the way. This right here is for everyone that has been in this situation.”

The Floyd family's attorney Ben Crump described the verdict as “painfully earned justice” in a statement.

“Justice for Black America is justice for all of America. This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message,” he said.

George Floyd's brother Terrence Floyd was happy to see history made.

“I am grateful that my grandmother, my mother, my aunts they got to see this history made,” Terrence Floyd said during a press conference after the convictions.

After closing arguments Monday, Philonise Floyd, another brother of George, said he was feeling "optimistic." telling the “Today” show that “I just feel that in America, if a Black man can’t get justice for this, what can a Black man get justice for?"

“Everyday of my life I will salute him,” he said of his brother. “I will miss him, but now I know he is in history.”

Chauvin’s conviction is a rare moment in the justice system; law enforcement officers are rarely found guilty of murder when tried for on-duty killings of civilians. Police kill around 1,000 civilians a year, but less than 10 officers, including Chauvin, have been found guilty of murder since 2005. Floyd’s death marks the first time in Minnesota history that a white police officer has been convicted of murder in the killing of a black man.

“It is shocking,” said Samaria Rice, whose son Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when he was shot and killed by police in Ohio on November 22, 2014.

Tamir Rice, who was Black, was playing with a toy gun when a white police officer, Timothy Loehman, shot him almost immediately after arriving to the recreation center where Rice was. A grand jury declined to indict Loehman and another responding officer, and federal prosecutors said in 2020 they would not pursue charges either.

Samaria Rice said she was glad to see a conviction. “That gives me a little hope,” she said, “I’m hoping I can get the same results in the Tamir Rice case. My son was murdered in less than a second, and as we know Timothy Loehman is walking around as a civilian right now.”

Samaria Rice appears on Megyn Kelly Today, on Jan. 24, 2018.Nathan Congleton / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank file

Rice described Tuesday’s verdict as “a step towards trying to seeing how this justice system can be effective.” She’s hoping the Department of Justice will reopen her son’s case.

Lee Merritt, who served as the family attorney in the high-profile police killings of Atatiana Jefferson and Ahmaud Arbery, described the conviction as a "relief for the community, but a far cry from justice."

"I have a concern this case might give someone a false security in our legal system," Merritt said. He cited the many cases were convictions, even of lesser charges, did not happen, and hopes Chauvin's trial will mark the beginning of a change in what he described as the "deadliest police culture in the world."

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