CA Civil-Rights Groups Breathe Easier After Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
In 2019, California legislators passed a bill allowing law enforcement use of deadly force "only when necessary in defense of human life." Photo Credit: JP Photography / Adobe Stock

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California civil-rights groups say they were relieved to hear the three guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday April 20th, and they’re vowing to continue the fight for racial justice.

The jury in Minneapolis convicted former police officer Chauvin on all counts for killing George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes. Had the verdict gone the other way, said Rick Callender, president of the California/Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP, the state and nation would have seen an explosion of rage and grief.

“Our very right to breathe was on trial,” he said, “and justice has really been served, and the verdict demonstrates accountability.”

Several years ago, after the police killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 392, which established a tougher standard to justify use of deadly force by police. The wording of the standard went from “reasonable fear” to “necessary in defense of human life.”

Callender said much more still needs to be done to further the cause of racial justice.

“We need to have an end to qualified immunity, which protects government officials from lawsuits seeking monetary damages,” he said. “We need to open up the records of police officers, so that punishments that have been placed on their records can be considered, going forth.”

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for the most serious charge of second-degree murder. The other Minneapolis police officers in the case are to go on trial later this year.

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