One of the witnesses that day, Charles McMillian, broke down on the witness stand as he recalled seeing Mr. Floyd cry out for “Mama.” Another witness, Darnella Frazier, who recorded the cellphone video that was viewed by millions, said she regretted that she had not done more to try to save Mr. Floyd.
“It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” Ms. Frazier said.
The trial was held in a closely guarded government building surrounded by high temporary fencing. Jurors were kept anonymous to protect them from potential threats. Because of the pandemic, Judge Cahill allowed the proceedings to be livestreamed, an exception to Minnesota’s strict rules governing cameras in the courtroom. Jurors sat in chairs spaced six feet apart instead of close together in a traditional jury box, and only two spectators — one from Mr. Floyd’s family, one from Mr. Chauvin’s — were allowed to be present at a time.
The case continues to have broad effects on Minneapolis, where more than 1,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed by vandalism and looting in the unrest that followed Mr. Floyd’s death. The Third Precinct building, which was set on fire, is boarded up. The intersection where Mr. Floyd was killed remains closed to traffic. And the city has endured an agonizing debate over the future of its Police Department.
Community activists celebrated the verdict, albeit gingerly. It was “one trial and one moment in history,” Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer, said on Minnesota Public Radio. “However, this moment didn’t happen because the system worked,” she added. “This moment happened because the people put in the work. We had to demand justice and accountability.”
Mr. Ellison, whose office prosecuted the case, called it an “inflection point” and called for a broader shift in how the police interact with the communities they serve.
“Although a verdict alone cannot end their pain, I hope it’s another step on the long path toward healing for them,” Mr. Ellison said of the Floyd family. “There is no replacing your beloved Perry, or Floyd, as his friends called him, but he is the one who sparked a worldwide movement, and that’s important.”