Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

Derek Chauvin Guilty On All Three Counts In Killing Of George Floyd; George Floyd's Brother: We Are Able To Breathe Again; Biden: Systemic Racism A Stain On Our Nation's Soul. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 20, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Almost a 11 months later, the world knows what actually happened.

The news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Anderson, appreciate it.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We are a nation in waiting no more. Former Minneapolis Police officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted on all counts for the murder of George Floyd.


JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY: We, the Jury, in the above entitled matter as to count one, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant Guilty.

Count two, third-degree murder perpetrating an eminently dangerous act, find the defendant Guilty.

Count three, second-degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk, find the defendant Guilty.


CUOMO: Second-degree murder, the most severe charge, an intentional assault that led to death, a jury of 12 delivering a verdict that an officer of the law wanted to hurt someone badly, and wound up killing them, as a result.

This is a precedent-setting verdict. And it came quickly, like 10 hours.

Now, while the video of those heartbreaking 9 minutes and 29 seconds, while that was obvious for many, this result in court, against a police officer, is very, very unusual. Police officers are rarely convicted of anything when it comes to use of force, let alone murder. Now, to start with, I can't even give you an easy answer to how often,

because we don't really keep good data on use of force, at the national level. Just think about what that says about our priorities here!

Since 2005, 140 officers have been arrested for murder or manslaughter in on-duty shootings. 44 have been convicted of a crime. Only seven have been convicted on murder charges for shootings.

But what about on-duty deaths that happened in another way, not shootings, like what happened to Floyd? We can't find a single homicide conviction for a non-shooting incident, let alone for an on- duty neck restraint case, aside from Chauvin. But there are three cases currently pending.

Again, we are a big country, with a big government that measures all kinds of things. And yet, we don't really keep track of these events.

The only reason we have the statistics I could give you is because of the tireless work, the tireless work, of one Professor, Stinson, at Bowling Green State. He's tracking these police crimes. He's stepping in where the federal government should be.

Now, more context of how special, literally historic, this case is, you remember the South Carolina case in 2015, where the cop shot and killed an unarmed Black man named Walter Scott? Remember, he was running away, shot him in the back?

The Killing, unbeknownst to the officer, was caught on tape, by a bystander, with a cell phone, exposed the cop, his name was Slager, for lying. Even in those circumstances, the state case ended in a hung jury. It just takes one.

Another one-time police officer, like Chauvin, named Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter, in 2017, for the killing of Philando Castile. Remember that traffic stop, despite footage and testimony from Castile's girlfriend, who witnessed the shooting?

So, what does that tell us? While the Derek Chauvin case, for the murder of George Floyd, may have seemed obvious, there was no reason to think this verdict would be returned.

Remember, this case almost never came to be. It started as a health incident, according to the police, remember? They put out a statement that the suspect, Floyd, appeared to be suffering medical distress, and that the officers called for an ambulance, and he died a short time, after being brought to the hospital.

As obvious as that video was, if not for the Governor, directing the A.G., to appoint a special prosecutor, this day may have never come.

So tonight, there is a collective sigh of relief, for many, across this nation, especially from the Floyd family. They are vowing to keep up their fight against systemic racial inequality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity to - for hopefully getting some sleep.

It's been a long journey.


My brother was murdered. Times, they're getting harder every day. 10 miles away from here, Mr. Wright, Daunte Wright--



FLOYD: --he should still be here.

We will have to do this for life.

I'm going to put up a fight every day, because I'm not just fighting for George anymore. I'm fighting for everybody around this world.

Today, we are able to breathe again.


CUOMO: It's a big enough occasion that President Biden addressed the nation, after the verdict. He says "We can, and we must, do more."


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Systemic racism, that's a stain on our nation's soul.

We can't stop here. In order to deliver real change and reform, we can, and we must, do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen, and occur again.


CUOMO: Now, we've heard this before, but we've never been here before. This is just one case. But what will it lead to? We never saw a verdict like this. We never saw protests like this.

We never saw the shock from White people to the footage, joining the cause, as they did here. So now we ask, will the Majority see the need for change, beyond this one verdict? Will the shock, from when we saw George Floyd pinned down, for so long, will it fade? Will people think this was enough? Or will it foster change?

And again, that means will the Majority, will White America, feel enough of a connection to this behavior, to this wrong, to this man, and this problem, that the call for change is not just shouted from the affected Minority community, but echoed everywhere?

Only then can this society improve how it polices for the men and women doing the job, and for the people they serve and protect. We know it is way past time. But is this the time that we move to put incidents like this one in the past, for good?

We have reaction tonight from someone who witnessed this murder firsthand. He called the cops last May 25th.




WILLIAMS: Check his pulse, Thao.


WILLIAMS: Thao, check his pulse.


WILLIAMS: Thao, check his pulse, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just we got to--

WILLIAMS: Bro, check his pulse, bro. You're bogus, bro!


CUOMO: It's Donald Williams. We had him on, right after the incident. He testified for the prosecution, and joins us once again.

What does this mean to you, Donald?

WILLIAMS: Man, this means a lot to me, not only to me, and my family, and also to the George Floyd's family and to the world. This is a big accomplishment and a big step to getting justice for Black America.

CUOMO: Did you expect this?

WILLIAMS: I can't say I expected it. But I know the team that with myself, and the team that I was around, the witnesses, we all went out there, and we told the truth.

We told what we've seen. And if the world didn't see what we've seen, then it was - it was blinders still on. And I believe the blinders are off now, because the verdict that was made today.

CUOMO: What has this meant to you, in your life, that you were there that day that you did the right thing, that you knew it was wrong, and that you felt powerless to stop it? Do you feel more powerful now?

WILLIAMS: I wouldn't say I feel powerful. I just feel that me as a human being, and the people that I grew up around, my personality, what I stand for, sticking out for people, and what I'm teaching my kids, have been shown to the world, as a Black man, you know?

And it just means a lot to me that a lot of weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It's been some really long nights, really, really long days, and a really long year, of being able to just have weight off my shoulders.

And today, it was a lot of weight off my shoulder for me and my family, and not only my family, but to George Floyd's family, and the world.

CUOMO: What do you want this to mean?

WILLIAMS: What I want this to mean, and the reason I'm going to keep on going on with this battle, after this situation, I want my son, and my friends' kids, my kids, my son's son's kids, my daughter kids, and my nieces, my nephews, I want them to be able to be understood, as a Black human being in America. I want them to be able to have justice, if their rights are being broken.


So, this just means a lot, being in history. I'm not really understanding how much history I am, but just listening to the people around me, and the different feedback I'm getting from my social media, that I'm getting from my teams around, this is really huge. And again, it means a lot, Chris.

CUOMO: When you were in court, you were ready. You were ready to be challenged. You were ready to be painted a certain way. What did it feel like to be in that seat, and to feel the questions coming, and how much the answers meant, and what you wanted to convey?

WILLIAMS: It means a - it means a lot. It was a championship fight for me. That's all I kept telling myself, the statements really focus, "It's the championship fight. It's five rounds, but this is the whole year. You got to be able to stay in the zone, don't lose yourself with all the riff-raff that's going on, or different rumors," or trying to make me out of - as an expert, or certain things, when all I was doing was just telling the truth, you know, so?

CUOMO: Part of the big defense strategy was, "You know the real deal with George Floyd, right? You know what he was really about, right? You know what he was doing, right? You know what he's really like, right?"

And then, when you got on the stand, they wanted you to be seen a certain way as well. Let me remind the audience.



WILLIAMS: No, you can't paint me out as angry. I was - I was in a position, where I had to be controlled.

NELSON: Those terms grew more and more angry. Would you agree with that?

WILLIAMS: They grew more and more pleading for life.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: "Angry Black man, spooking the cops, they couldn't do their job," that's what the portrayal was supposed to be. You didn't want to let it happen.

WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I've been here.

I've been here, 4 years old, 5 years old, 6 years old, 7 years old, being considered the angry Black child that always got his work done before, in his class and, was saying, "No, he's just doing too much energy," and things like that, "Being a wrestler in Minnesota, passive-aggressive," I've been through all of this before.

So like, what he did for me, was just gave me more feel to be comfortable, on the stands, because I knew his tactics was to see me as a Black man, and to see that I was angry, and to see if he could distract me, and to see if he could get me off.

Of course, I stayed on track. He was not able to break me because we're unbreakable. We've been doing this fight for 400-plus years. And I'm just a hybrid of my parents, and I'm a hybrid of my ancestors before me.

CUOMO: When I met you, when we first spoke, last May, you said, "We got to make a change. We all better make a change."

I don't know the last time we saw a verdict like this, under these kinds of circumstances. And this is a moment where change is possible. And you are forever part of that result, and that story.

And I wish you well. And I thank you, Donald Williams, for sharing your story with us, from the beginning.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Chris, for having me. And thank you to the world, and to the George Ford family, and for the justice that we got. And thank you to my team, and again, my family for being able to rock with me, and keep me focused towards this championship fight.

CUOMO: God bless and good luck going forward. I'm always a call away.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: All right.


CUOMO: We have another witness to the Floyd murder. This one did not testify at trial. He was in the passenger seat, inside Floyd's car. He is Maurice Hall. You'll remember he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, at the trial.

But he is back now, and willing to talk to us, next.









CUOMO: Every single one of the past 330 days, everyone who was at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, in Minneapolis, has lived with a memory of the murder that they witnessed. And now, there can be no debate. It was a murder.

Tonight, a witness you didn't hear, in trial, is back on CUOMO PRIME TIME, to tell you what it's been like, from that day to this one.

Maurice Hall, welcome back.


CUOMO: What does today mean to you, sir?

HALL: Today meant the beginning of justice. It's still going to be a long way, you know? I've been feeling like I must still forever miss Big Floyd, you know? This is the beginning for the future of Black America, the injustice, things of that nature.

CUOMO: You ever think about what would have happened, if there weren't all that video, if there weren't all those people, gathered around, seeing what happened, worried about what happened?

HALL: Yes, they showed us from the beginning, they started trying to cover it up, you know? So, I can just imagine, just like all the other cameras, and whatnot.

Even they had footage for the Philando, you know? Still saw how that turned out in the same city. And now, we have another one, in the same city is the problem, Chris, is the problem with the use of force, these officers.

CUOMO: Philando Castile, you're talking about?

HALL: Yes.


CUOMO: Now, I was wondering when I - when I heard that you weren't going to testify, obviously, it's completely your right, I wonder how much of your decision was the fact that you and your lawyer knew that the defense wanted to paint this situation, about who George was, and what he was really about?

Were you worried about that that they were going to come at you, and try to make this some kind of character assassination?

HALL: Of course. I mean, first of all, the defense, I'm not on any stand, so for them calling me, it was useless for them calling me. So, to keep myself from being unenlightened (ph) going up there and probably getting into attempted (ph) court, I just - we came up with a plan. And it was a great one, you know? It just would have distracted everybody.

CUOMO: What about the other officers' cases? Do you want to testify in those?

HALL: I wouldn't mind. That's going to be summed up with my lawyer, lawyers. Like I said, the defense, they was not on our side. So, it was nothing I would do often here (ph). And I think the prosecution done a good job anyway, with bringing all professionals, so.

CUOMO: I got it. Was there a little bit of frustration for you that you wanted to speak up, on your friend's behalf, as you call him Big Floyd?

HALL: Well, I know that this is a historical monument. So, I'll have my chance, to tell my story, instead of being narrated, and scripted the way they want to paint me.

CUOMO: So, what do you think it means, at the end of the day? This is a big case. I was saying, at the top of the show, I don't know if you got to hear, it's almost hard to compare it to anything else. It was a case that became a Movement, became a Movement, not just local--

HALL: Right.

CUOMO: --not just Black people. The tape was so shocking, so long--

HALL: Yes, Chris.

CUOMO: --so obvious to so many. But it's still just one case. And change takes a lot. Do you think this could be the catalyst that leads to something more?

HALL: Very well. Very well we believe that officers, we know, for sure, going forward, if they don't want to be appointed, have a chance, to intervene in some, I hope and pray that they have enough gumption to take and intervene no matter who's the superior officer.

CUOMO: This is a little bit of a weird question. But you knew George Floyd very well. And you miss him. And I know your heart that you lost a brother this way.

I'm just wondering, you must be thinking about him so much, during this process, and obviously, nobody could ever consider "Hey, I wonder if my life would ever become part of a huge criminal case."

But what do you think your friend would have thought about how much dimension his life would take on, how many people would know his name, across this country and the world? What do you think your friend would have made of this? HALL: Well, believe it or not, Chris, Big Floyd always thought he was legendary. He come from a hip-hop culture in Houston. So, it's ironic that it turned like this, in these circumstances, but he still carried himself, as if he was an athlete, a superstar that he was. And I think he would have embraced it.

CUOMO: Well, he certainly has become very, very relevant.

Maurice Hall, I'm glad this is over for you, and you can get on with your life. And thank you for talking to us again.

HALL: Yes, sir. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, be well, god bless.

HALL: Yes, sir, thank you.

CUOMO: Now, obviously, this started as a local story. It almost ended as a local story. And, on the streets of Minneapolis, there has been a barometer about what this will mean for people in that communities and communities like it.

The nation, those streets are no longer, in waiting, for this verdict. But we do know that this is just one case. And the fight, over injustice, in America, has a long way to go. Next.









CUOMO: George Floyd was murdered by a Police. That is forever. But now, there has been accountability as a form of justice. What will that mean?

Let's see where that story goes, in the place that it began, on the streets of Minneapolis, where Sara Sidner, once more, joins us tonight, from what is now George Floyd Square.

Where we started, and where we are, how are you, Sara?


CUOMO: You're all right.

SIDNER: I'm trying to hear you, Chris. It's very, very, very loud.

Just behind me is Jesse Jackson.

The crowd here has been very calm, very active, calm, talking about what they can do.

I'm going to pull out a little bit here (OFF-MIKE) really, really loud (OFF-MIKE) swept up in the - in the crowd of people, who are following Jesse. He came here. The crowd cheered.

But let me give you a scene-setter really, a very different feeling in George Floyd Square tonight (OFF-MIKE) imagine. There was a lot of pent-up tension. There was a lot of pent-up sorrow, a lot of pent-up anger, about what happened, and a lot of pent-up worry about what this verdict was going to be.

Now that that Derek Chauvin is guilty, on all three counts, he is guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter, you can see, what people are doing.

They're dancing. They are, in some ways, celebrating, not celebrating (OFF-MIKE) that is overly disrespectful. They realize a life is gone. There have been people praying, down here, at George Floyd, the area where George Floyd breathed his last breaths.


But they feel that they're celebrating because they feel that at least justice has been done in some sense. The justice system, they felt, worked, in their minds, this time, and to see that that video that was taken had such an impact, clearly an impact on the jury, just the same way it did, on the entire world.

But you can see the crowd, again, a crowd of people, who are diverse, people from all walks of life are here. There are children here. There are families here.

This is very much like the first few days, after George Floyd died, except for the feeling now is one of (OFF-MIKE) and relief (OFF-MIKE) Floyd told us (OFF-MIKE) of this (OFF-MIKE) all this time and I (OFF- MIKE) has been taken (OFF-MIKE) taken (OFF-MIKE).

CUOMO: If you can, try to get the photographer to stay in one place, and then the shot will stop breaking up. That's a WiFi camera, by the way. We call them live-view. So, it's hard for them just with wireless signal.

Can we get Sara back? Good.

Stay still, so I can hear you and see you, Sara. And give me a sense of this--

SIDNER: Sorry, Chris.



CUOMO: You have nothing to be sorry for you. You've been such a help to the audience, and to me, all along, very hard story to cover, and done very well. But this isn't about us.

The idea that this verdict would happen, I've never seen another case, non-shooting murder conviction. Do people understand how rare a form of justice this is?

SIDNER: Absolutely. Everybody in this state, especially Black folks in this state, understand that this is a seminal case. That's how they're seeing it. It is a seminal case.

It is a case in which, for the first time, in the state, an officer, accused of murdering someone has been convicted, in this way, in this manner, second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

And yes, people really understand what's going on. You know who else understands? The family of George Floyd understands.

I'm going to move just a little bit because it's starting to get full in here. And we'd like to try to keep it COVID-safe, if we can.

But I wanted to give you just a view of kind of how things are here. I mean, it is a totally different feeling than when I was here, in May, when I came back in June.

So sorry. I apologize.

It is a different feeling than when I was here a month ago. And we've been here for a month.

Giving you a look now of the crowd. They have taken over this area really. And that's why they're calling it George Floyd Square. Everything you see is about George Floyd. But it's also a cry for justice.

And just coming in, to the backside of this, we are right outside of Cup Foods. And if you look down there, Chris, I know you know, this image, and I know our audience does, too, but it's pretty powerful being here, right now, looking at where his body lay, when he took his last breath.

And you see people have been constantly trying to make sure that this was not disturbed, and constantly kept up. And there are things from all over the world here. And people are here standing around it. Some people (OFF-MIKE) have been so, so thankful and hugging each other.

It's just such an incredibly powerful scene. And that young lady (OFF- MIKE) installation that we were just inside, every single day, every single day, she comes and collects people's offerings, and she intends to keep them for the history. She intends to keep them for historic record of what happened here in Minneapolis.

So, that is the scene here in, George Floyd Square, a sense of relief, and a sense that justice has been served. Chris?

CUOMO: Sara, thank you so much, for taking us inside the situation, the hearts and the minds. You are appreciated, my friend.

Pain, pain, is what this story is about, for the people who live it and live in fear of it. George Floyd was one man. And I know there are those of you, who will see this, and be like, "Wow, they're really making a big deal about him, I mean!"

It's never been just about George Floyd. It's that his life mattered, because many like him feel that their lives do not. He's a person, but also a proxy. This is about him, but it's much bigger than him. It always has been.

Do not let your ideas about the situation begin and end with one person. That's never been what it is about. And now you understand that better because you know that video hits you in a way you didn't expect it to.


Now, we have a case on the books that is unlike almost any other we've ever seen. What will it mean going forward? Van Jones, next.








CUOMO: Remember how we got here. Yes, the video, stark, consistent. But we've seen videos before. I'm old enough to remember Rodney King, Eric Gardner, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice. Look, I know you can't keep the names straight. Why? There are too many.

But I'll remind you, the videos always prompt outrage, it never looks good. But we have never had one lead to a cop convicted of murder, let alone in a non-shooting situation. What does it mean?

Van Jones.


So, we have reminded people, you reminded me last night, we had the Chief of Police, we had the Head of Training, testify in this case, against a former officer.


CUOMO: Unique.

JONES: Very, very rare.

CUOMO: We had it start with the local Force making it sound like something it was not.


CUOMO: Until it was taken by the state, given to A.G. Ellison, and a special prosecutor. But for, but for, but for, we're not even here.

JONES: Right.

CUOMO: So, in context, how special is this?

JONES: Very special, and there's lessons here. And I'm so glad. I love talking to you because we can get to the real stuff.

People say the system worked. That's kind of true. But it's not. The people made the system work. That's the key. It is the people made it work, that young woman with her cell phone.

And then when they've turned in, they had the cover-up with the local police department, going "Ooh, it's just an oopsie," and the local prosecutor wasn't acting right.

People rose up. The Governor, responding to the people, took the case, gave it to Keith Ellison. He put that case on. The people making the system work. And that's going to have to continue going forward.

Three things. Now, the elected officials got to step in. Number one, the people got to make the Senate act. The House has already passed some good legislation. Senator Tim Scott and Cory Booker could sit down together, come up with a way for the Senate to act.

Ban the chokehold. The chokehold is still not banned. There's no registry for cops like Chauvin. There's no duty to intervene today. There is no duty for the cop to intervene right now. Let Senate now fix that, number one.

Number two, this week, Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke could be affirmed by the Senate to be a part of the Department of Justice. It's what Biden was talking about today. These are competent, smart, civil rights attorneys who could get in there, and begin to help make real change. Give Biden the team he wants, to clean things up.

The last thing is that locally, they've got an idea, this thing called "Yes 4 Minneapolis," to fix the police department there, and to make that thing work.

You got to keep making the system work. It's not automatic. You can make it work. But you got to do the kind of stuff that got us here is what can get us there. If you just - if you just celebrate, and sit down, we'll be right back here in a year. CUOMO: People take me to task for showing the crowd, and showing that they're White people. Yes, one of the reasons I do that is so that White people can get over this phobic response to angry Black people, but also because Minorities can't change things by themselves.

JONES: Yes. You know what? You know what? It's--

CUOMO: The Majority has to want it too.

JONES: That's called - that's called Math Matters, OK? Black Lives Matter and Math Matters.

It turns out it's always been this unbelievable coalition, often led by Black folks, often led by Black struggle, Black soul, Black pain, Black genius, Black magic, but never by ourselves, always with these unbelievable allies of every color.

I love this, this new thing, this bouquet of humanity. That was one of the phrases from the - it's always been a bouquet of humanity, always led by Black struggle, or often led by Black struggle, but everybody in, and it brings out the best in everybody. And that's what happened here.

And here's - so that - you're not taking anything away from the - from the Black struggle by saying that. You're saying the Black struggle is so beautiful it can bring the best out in everybody.

But listen, math matters. The people who are in the State of Minnesota, if you look at their numbers, the Livability Index is unbelievable. But the disparities are some of the worst in the country.

What does that mean? It means Minnesota is a great place to be White and a terrible place to be Black. That's what that means. And you got to get together to fix it.

One of the things that happened is that you had grassroots organizations, of all kinds, who when the cameras went away, kept working together, kept helping each other, Muslim, Muong (ph), Somali, all these young people working together, that's what we've got to keep.

And I'll tell you what, some of the people right now, who are denouncing you, Chris, for doing what you're doing, in 10 years, will be praising you, because that's what happens. It's the people who raise their hand, and tell the truth, get beat up in the short-term, by the Left and the Right, but long-term, that's what makes a difference.

It's happening on the air. It's happening in corporate boardrooms. It's happening on the streets. It's happening among young people. And we are winning. Folks, we're winning. But we haven't won yet.

CUOMO: All that matters is change. How it gets there, it gets there. The Majority has to want it. My question is how much of a catalyst is this? This case, again, I did not see this verdict coming. Yes, everything makes sense after the fact. But this was unprecedented, almost--

JONES: Right.

CUOMO: --in a non-shooting case. But the notes I see from people saying, "Hey, I got to tell you, I'm happy for them. I'm happy for those guys," who's those guys?

JONES: Right.

CUOMO: You have to be happy, really, I mean, it's not a joyous situation, but you have to be satisfied that the system can work, and that the compromise of the Collective can make things happen.

If the Majority doesn't want the changes we need, for our police officers, to do their job better, for themselves, and those they protect, it won't happen.


JONES: I agree. And I want to just say one last thing. Coming together is the key.

And the U.S. Senate has an opportunity like you never believe. They - everybody - the polls, on, the chokehold, the registry, duty to intervene, off the charts, in both parties. You have a Republican leader in Tim Scott, a Democratic leader in Cory Booker. Let them get together, break the logjam in the Senate, and do something.

People will feel better, on all sides, if we acknowledge the stuff that's not working and fix it. That could happen. The Senate could do that. They could confirm Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke. Things could happen this week, this month, that would make this less likely to happen going forward, and that make everybody feel better.

CUOMO: And just one little add. Process matters. Don't let the leaders deal with this with the proxies of Booker, and Scott. Put it in committee. Let's see people how they mark it up. Let's see what amendments they want.

JONES: Sure.

CUOMO: Let people be counted for why they don't want to vote for it. Don't give them the out--

JONES: Good point.

CUOMO: --of being able to talk on an aside. Let it all be exposed. People know what's right and what's wrong.


CUOMO: Van Jones, you are like, I don't know, I guess like a beautiful tulip in the bouquet. Guys like me doing the job, we are that like grass that they throw in at the end, that it sits at the bottom.

JONES: We're all at the-- CUOMO: I'm may be on the foam, I don't know.

But I appreciate you. Thank you for your message to my audience. You are a plus. Be well.

JONES: Thank you. Thank you, brother.

CUOMO: All right. Now, what's going to happen? In several weeks, you will have the sentencing. That will be a very interesting aspect of this. You also have three more officers to be tried.

So, we're going to go back on what comes next, with a criminal defense attorney, who helped get George Zimmerman acquitted, in the Trayvon Martin case. This part of the analysis matters. The sentence matters. The next cases matter too.

We'll be right back.









CUOMO: The George Floyd murder trial is over. But the legal process is not. You have Derek Chauvin's sentencing months away. An appeal is a virtual certainty. And don't forget, there are three other officers, still to be tried, for Floyd's killing.

Criminal Defense Attorney Mark O'Mara joins me now.

I was surprised by this verdict. I did not think they would get the second-degree murder charge. But they did. And they did it quickly. Now, what does that suggest if anything, about sentencing?

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY, FORMER LEAD DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Well, it tells the Judge, who's going to be the sentencing authority here, that this jury was certain. They didn't take too long. There wasn't a lot of compromises.

There weren't questions about what to do. They knew the law. They knew the facts. And they applied them. So, I think a tight deliberation. And this wasn't an hour or two hours. I mean, they took their time. I think they went through all the evidence.

But I think their voice to the Judge was "We are certain that Chauvin was guilty of second-degree murder and, by the way, everything else that we can convict him of." And I think the Judge has to take that into heart, and into mind, when he decides, what's a reasonable sentence, under these circumstances.

CUOMO: Aggravating factors, mitigating factors, what do you see as the biggest aggravating and any mitigating?

O'MARA: So the abuse of his authority, that, no question about that.

And of course, he was vulnerable, on any vulnerable victim, somebody who is sort of, you abused that vulnerability, and that's exactly what Chauvin did. I mean, let's face it, it was exactly who George Floyd was, that led to his death that he was vulnerable to Chauvin's continued action.

So, he's got a lot of explaining to do to this judge, which he'll have an opportunity, at sentencing, to say why he did what he did, because those 9.5 minutes not only got him convicted, but I think it's going to get him an aggravated sentence.

CUOMO: Aggravated sentence means what? You think there's any chance he serves 20 years or more?

O'MARA: Well, the guidelines suggest for someone like Chauvin, ignoring the aggravation, about 12.5 years. If, Chris, if I or you were convicted of those, just like it was, 12.5 years is the recommended sentence, although the maximum is 40 years.

So, we know that he got maybe this offer or 10 years way back when Attorney General Barr, put it (ph) somehow. But we have to know that a regular person, not a cop, a regular person would get 12.5 years.

Now, does Chauvin get the benefit and a lesser sentence, because he was a law enforcement officer?

Or does the judge look at those aggravating factors and say, "Look, you so abused your trust, and the ability, and authority that we gave you that we now have to make an example of somebody, who does that abuse of trust," and gives him that 20-year sentence?

I don't think it's going to go higher than 20. But I would be surprised if it's only the guideline range of 12.5.

CUOMO: And whatever that is--

O'MARA: Which, by the way, Chris, I'm sorry, is a - is a massive sentence for a law enforcement officer--

CUOMO: Right.

O'MARA: --to get.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, this judge is not going to have a lot of precedent to rely on, and look, because we've never really seen a case--


CUOMO: --like this. This is a non-shooting murder case.

O'MARA: Yes.

CUOMO: What does it mean, quickly, for the other three officers?

O'MARA: Don't forget, 97 percent of all criminal cases resolve themselves short of a trial. We plead them out a lot.

And I got to tell you, if I'm a criminal defense attorney, representing one of those three, I'm having a cup of coffee with the prosecutor, tomorrow, to try and work something out, because those - that jury spoke loud and clear in the next--

CUOMO: You just lost a lot of leverage though.

O'MARA: Yes, they did.

Oh, yes. I've lost a lot of leverage with the conviction of Chauvin, no question about it.

CUOMO: Mark, thank you very much for the perspective. I appreciate you, as always. Thank you for helping us along the way.

O'MARA: All right, be well.

CUOMO: All right. There's more to come on this breaking news night. We'll be right back.









CUOMO: It's a very important night. We have to make sense of why this case was decided the way it was, and what will it mean, in this country, after tonight.

I'll be back at Midnight Eastern with special live expanded coverage. And guess who will be by my side? D. Lemon.

But right now, he's here solo, with the Big Show.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What a night, what a day, watching all of this unfold! I mean, here it is. I mean, we were - we were talking about what, just 24 hours ago, that it only takes one juror? But that's not where we are right now.

Everybody agreed. 10 hours of deliberation, 4.5 hours one day - 4 hours one day, 6.5 hours, the next day. And here we are, finally, in the, justice, in the eyes of many, in this country.

CUOMO: The case almost does not have a companion. My big brain senior was looking it up for me today.

First of all, you know what the embarrassing thing is? I can't give you a great answer, about where this case fits, in terms of the statistics and percentages, because we don't keep them. It's not a national metric for us, use of force. We depend on States. The FBI works with them. But there're no standards.