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CHICAGO (CBS) — A local expert on Tuesday said the conviction of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd will be a defining moment for many young people seeking change, and will serve also as a lesson in Chicago that such convictions are possible.

Sharon Fairley is now a professor from practice at the University of Chicago Law School.

Previously, she oversaw the Independent Police Review Authority in Chicago, which has since been supplanted by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

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Fairley joined CBS 2’s Brad Edwards and Irika Sargent to talk about the historic verdict on Thursday. Edwards began by asking Fairley if the Chauvin verdict amounted to a potential pivot point for people who are calling for change at police departments and policing practices across the country.

“Absolutely it is. This is going to be a defining moment for many young people, and of course, young Black people,” Fairley said. “This conviction is historic for a number of reasons. It starts with what happened last year – that the idea, the outrage from last year actually got turned into and focused into reform, and so we’ve seen a number of really important historic police reform measures being passed at the state level, for example, in the last year. We see many cities, large and small, beefing up their accountability systems. And so this incident and the aftermath has really, really put the wind in the sails of activists, who have really taken the activism and made it work for positive change.”

Sargent noted that in Chicago, we have seen a number of police officers go on trial on criminal charges. Notably in recent years, Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of murder in the 2014 death of Laquan McDonald.

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Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer convicted of murder for an on-duty incident in more than 50 years.

He was convicted in 2018 of second-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery — one count for each time he shot Laquan McDonald – but was acquitted of one count of official misconduct.

Van Dyke had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, but the defense had asked the jury to be allowed to consider a verdict on second-degree murder instead of first-degree. In order to do so, they were required to determine the prosecution proved the elements of first-degree murder, that the defense has shown Van Dyke believed he was justified in shooting McDonald, but that his belief was not a reasonable one.

Fairley said the Chauvin verdict shows that convictions against officers that might be seen as steeper are possible in Chicago and beyond.

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“Well, I think the reason why we have this historic conviction on all counts here, including the most serious changes, is based on the fact that the video was such compelling evidence,” she said. “But it’s also because the prosecutors put in a really airtight case. They put in a fantastic case that was really hard to break holes in. And so hopefully, Chicago will learn from this experience – it is possible to get these convictions, even as hard as it is to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt when we’re trying police officers. It is possible.”

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Tags: chicago news investigative brad edwards chicago police derek chauvin george floyd irika sargent jason van dyke law professor minneapolis police chicago news investigative chicago police officer first degree murder chicago police officer death of george floyd second degree murder the chauvin verdict possible in chicago convicted of murder derek chauvin seen a number police officers chauvin verdict laquan mcdonald it is possible it is possible was convicted are possible a reasonable van dyke is historic the defense

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Three cops accused of aiding and abetting Derek Chauvin wont stand trial until 2022

Pictured from left to right are ex-Minneapolis cops Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. All are accused in George Floyd's death. Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd.

Three former Minneapolis police officers accused of aiding and abetting their peer in the death of George Floyd had their trial date pushed back to March 2022, the Associated Press reported of a judge’s ruling on Thursday. Thomas Lane and J. Kueng are accused of restraining Floyd while Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, causing the Black father’s death on May 25 outside of the Cup Foods convenience store. Tou Thao is accused of preventing bystanders from helping Floyd and keeping them away from the police encounter.

While a jury convicted Chauvin last month, Judge Peter Cahill, the same judge who presided over Chauvin’s case, decided to push back the trial of the other officers to allow for a federal case building against them to play out. Lane, Kueng, and Thao, who were originally set to stand trial Aug. 23, are also facing federal charges that they violated Floyd's civil rights in the violent arrest.

Cahill determined in a sentencing order for Chauvin that although it's unclear whether Lane, Kueng, and Thao knowingly had the "intent and knowledge necessary to establish that they are 'offenders,'" they were "actively involved" in the encounter.

Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter who lived in the area of Cup Foods, testified during Chauvin's trial that Thou prevented her from helping even after she told him her profession. His response, Hansen said was: “’If you really are a Minnesota firefighter you would know better than to get involved.’” 

The firefighter said had officers let her help, she would’ve called for additional help and sent someone to a gas station to find an automated external defibrillator. She said she would’ve checked Floyd’s airways for blockages and checked his pulse. She said if she couldn’t find a pulse, she would’ve done chest compressions until help arrived. When the prosecution asked Hansen if she felt frustrated, she started crying. “Yes,” she replied, grabbing a tissue.

At another point in the trial, David Fowler, a forensic pathologist brought in by Chauvin's defense as an expert witness, testified that even if Chauvin and other officers weren’t on Floyd’s neck, their weight on a person's abdomen or torso could also cause compressional or positional asphyxia, a lack of oxygen flow to the brain—what experts determined killed Floyd. "If it exceeds the limits of 225 pounds as found by multiple studies, then yes your argument is correct," Fowler said responding to the question from the prosecution.

In short, Chauvin’s trial isn’t doing his accused peers any favors. All three officers have pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors are trying to add third-degree murder to their charges as well, according to CNN.

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