Butler County sheriff: ‘We need to build our nation up by conversation and understanding’

Sheriff Richard Jones says ‘justice was rendered’ Tuesday as ex-cop Derek Chauvin ‘had his day in court.’

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said the former Minneapolis cop found guilty of murder and homicide “had his day in court” and as far he was concerned, “justice was rendered.”

A Minneapolis jury reached a verdict Tuesday in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in the May 25 death of George Floyd. Chauvin was accused of causing Floyd’s death this past May by pinning him to the pavement with a knee.

The verdict came in after about 10 hours of jury deliberations over two days. He was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in eight weeks.

“In this country, you get to go before jury selection of your peers, and that’s what he had,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

Floyd’s death ignited protests and riots in Minneapolis and across the country, as he was another person of color who died while in the custody of, or during an interaction with, police. Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department along with others who also face charges related to Floyd’s death.

Jones doesn’t anticipate any response locally to the verdict, but he does call for peace across the country.

“This case has had an emotional impact on not just the Minneapolis community but every community in this country,” Jones said. “We need to build our nation up by conversation and understanding, not

tearing it down with more hate, hostility and violence.”

Middletown Police Chief David Birk said the Chauvin verdict was “a great example of due process and the criminal justice system.”

“The jury of his peers reviewed the evidence and listened to witnesses and found him guilty on all charges,” he said. “This is an example of the democracy of this great country serving the citizens and finding justice for Mr. Floyd and his family.”

Birk said now law enforcement “must continue” to improve its training and build relationships with their communities.

The Rev. Shaquila Mathews, a Hamilton School Board member and pastor at Truth & Life Community Church, said the Chauvin verdict was “a huge step in the right direction.”

“It absolutely feels like a level of justice, and I think this just starts the conversation of ‘let’s open up those other cases,’ ” she said. “Let’s use this as a precedence to look at those other cases of people that were murdered at the hands of police.”

Mathews said “there’s still so much work to do” in building trust with the police and the Black community and other communities of color. She says Hamilton Police Department has worked to build a strong relationship with the community at large and the Black community with officers integrated into the community.

“We have to continue to put our foot on the gas,” she said. “We have to allow this (guilty verdict) to fuel us forward ... and to continue to peacefully protest, to continue to be a presence among our lawmakers to change legislation and policies, and to be a part of that process.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo fired Chauvin as well as officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane days after Floyd’s death on May 25. They face an Aug. 23 trial, charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

As the Chauvin trial was underway, Kim Potter, 48, a former Brooklyn Center police officer, was charged with second-degree manslaughter for allegedly fatally shooting Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black motorist. The charge came three days after Potter’s confrontation with Wright when she admitted she intended to pull her Taser instead of her service weapon.

Before Tuesday’s Chauvin verdict, a 16-year-old Black girl from Columbus was fatally shot by a police officer. State investigators are reviewing the case, including the officer’s bodycam footage.

The Rev. Celeste Didlick-Davis, president of the Middletown Area NAACP, said there’s a difference between justice and accountability.

She said the guilty verdict was the “beginning of the walk for justice, journey for justice.”

While she was “excited” about the verdict, she’s concerned about the continued violence between police and Blacks.

“People are still dying,” said Didlick-Davis, who questioned what role all the cellphone video played in the officer being charged, then found guilty.

On Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the verdict was read, Didlick-Davis called her 29-year-old son with a message she has repeated countless times: “Be careful out there.”

Reporting from the Associated Press was used in this story.