LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd Tuesday. People across the country are reflecting on the verdict, including a legal expert at the University of Kentucky.
When cases of racial injustice and police brutality gain national attention, UK Associate Professor of Law Cortney Lollar says the conversation finds its way into the classroom.
“Talking about the systemic issues in the legal system that have allowed for some of this to flourish and to continue to grow in the way that it has,” said Lollar. “So that there's not accountability for police violence that we would expect and that we would hope in the country.”
Lollar says she knows students are watching and are affected by cases like the murder of Floyd. The conversation continues with the case, not just at the university but across the country.
After jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. In Minnesota though, he only faces sentencing for the highest conviction, second-degree murder. If that's the case, does it matter that he was found guilty on all three charges?
Lollar says yes.
“The way it would matter is if for some reason on appeal, for example, the Court of Appeals found there was some problem with the second-degree conviction, maybe the jury instructions were given inaccurately or something happened specifically to the second-degree murder charge that the Court of Appeals was concerned with,” she said. “If for some reason, the Court of Appeals said, 'We are overturning the second-degree conviction,' then those other two low convictions would still stand. So then officer Chauvin would be sentenced on the next most serious conviction at that point.”
Lollar says she thinks Chauvin will appeal the verdict. As for the three other officers involved who are awaiting trial, she expects them to think seriously about a plea agreement after Chauvin's convictions.
“If I were in their shoes, I certainly would,” she said.
Looking even further ahead, Lollar hopes to see this case be a step toward systemic change.