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Prosecutors Speak Following Derek Chauvin's Guilty Verdict

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When the final guilty verdict was announced, the crowd roared, many people hugging, some shedding tears (7:10). WCCO 4 News - April 20, 2021

Video Transcript

- Thank you, Mr. Attorney General. First, I want once again to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of George Floyd. I hope today's verdict provides some measure of closure for them. Now, let me say what a tremendous job Attorney General Keith Ellison did in recruiting and organizing a talented team of prosecutors and supporting staff. Great job. Matt Frank, Jerry Blackwell, Steve Fleischer, and Aaron Eldridge were exceptional. Their use of experts, evidence, and witnesses left the jury no alternative but to find Mr. Chauvin guilty.

We, and the people of Minnesota, should rightly be proud of these four and your entire staff of volunteers and assistant attorney generals and the jobs they did over the last seven weeks. I'm also proud from the moment that the [INAUDIBLE] County Attorney's Office charged Derek Chauvin with murder and manslaughter four days after George Floyd's murder. Our team worked long hours, side by side, with the attorney general's team. Managing

Attorney Gene Burdarf did legal analysis and writing. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Joshua Larson did witness prep and strategy development. And Vernona Boswell, manager of our victim services division, has been in direct contact for nearly a year now with the family of George Floyd. Victim and witness advocates, Jessica Immerman and Keith Johnson, manage all the witnesses, civilian and professional. My two deputies, Lolita Eyoup and Andy Lefevre, and I supplied strategic advice and coordination to this talented team 24/7.

These guilty verdicts against Mr. Chauvin cannot be the end of the conversation about officer killings of civilians. We need to prevent these killings in the first place. The Minnesota legislature, as it moves into the final three weeks of the session, must pass a number of bills that will make policing fairer and safer for all, but especially for Black men and women and other people of color. I've been lobbying legislators to pass these critical bills. If they fail, then it will be time once again to have a statewide task force to hold hearings and come up with model legislation intending to put an end to these deaths.

I am prepared to be part of that fight. Again Keith, great job.

- Thank you, Mike.

- And now I'd like to ask the trial lawyers to share some thoughts if they have any. But before I do that, I'd like to, myself, thank a number of people, and I'm just going to start by-- why don't you-- why don't we just-- why don't we just have our trial lawyers come forward and then we'll thank our whole team. So Jerry, Steve, which one of you-all want to do it?

STEVE SCHLEICHER: Thank you, Attorney General Ellison. And when I say thank you to attorney general Ellison I want to thank you for calling me and calling me back into public service. Which is something that I was able to do as a federal prosecutor, as a state prosecutor, as an assistant county attorney in the United States Army. When I left private practice I thought those days were behind me, but I received a call and it was from Keith Ellison. And he gave me the opportunity to step back into public service. Something that is so important to me, something that I cherish.

And I would just encourage anyone if you get a call like that as an attorney, it's such it's a privileged life. It's a noble profession. And if somebody calls you and they ask you for help, don't overthink it. Just do it. Because as I've found in my career you get a lot more than you give.

I'm honored to have stood with the Floyd family. To have stood with the State of Minnesota as we go through this painful process together. And it's been my privilege to practice with this incredible, incredible, gifted trial team. And so I stand here today in gratitude. I'm thankful. I want to thank the jury for their service, for doing what was right and decent and correct and speaking the truth and finding the right verdict in this case.

GERRY BLACKWELL: I'm Gerry Blackwell, and my comments are going to be fairly brief. I want to first say thank you to all of these selfless servants that you see standing here, and the many more that you do not see, who had the willingness, the courage, the passion, the intentional fortitude to get into good trouble. They stepped into the light, and they shot. And for that I say thank you. I'm grateful for them. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I've had to serve.

Now, no verdict can bring George Perry Floyd back to us. But this verdict does give a message to his family. That he was somebody, that his life mattered. Because all of our lives matter, and that's important. And I also hope that this verdict, for all of the rest of collective, all of us, will help us further along the road toward a better humanity. Thank you all.

- Matt Frank.

MATT FRANK: Well, I can't really follow that too much. But I just want to say that it's been really a privilege to work with this awesome group of dedicated, hardworking people in this endeavor. But it's also been just a total privilege to get to know the Floyd family and to spend time with them and get to know them. Because first and foremost this is for you, George Floyd, and for your family and friends. Thank you.

- Thank you, Matt. So let me also thank very publicly Aaron Eldridge, who was part of our trial team who's not here today but was indispensable. Lola Velasquez Agalu, thank you, Lola, for a wonderful job that you did. Josh Larson. Josh, thanks so much, my friend. Zuri Baumkauken. Thank you, Zuri. And Natasha Robinson. I want to thank you and the next generation. The next generation of justice-seekers.

Dion Dodd, I want to thank you. Dion, where are you? Thank you very much. And I want to thank you, Venona Boswell, you are a star. And I also want to thank so many other people, but with that we're going to close our comments right now and just say that we are prepared to continue to pursue justice. Thank you.