Central Florida leaders, law enforcement react to Derek Chauvin verdict

Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin was found guilty on all charges: Second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin, 45, could be sent to prison for decades.

Members of the community, as well as local leaders and lawmakers in Central Florida, are speaking out about the verdict.

"The guilty verdicts announced in Minneapolis won’t bring George Floyd back to his family. The verdicts also won’t diminish the pain and anger felt around the nation and in our community over his horrific killing and the killings of other people of color in the United States," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "They will however serve as motivation to work harder to make changes to end systemic racism."

Dyer added that the City of Orlando is committed to working with and for residents "to ensure every person is equally valued, equally protected and has equitable access to opportunities."

"What we have to acknowledge is the fact that a judicial process was put in place and our peers were tasked with processing all that information that was given to them," Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon told FOX 35, "and the outcome is something that we have to accept and recognize -- it is part of our nation's judicial process."

Orange County Sheriff John Mina addressed how this verdict could change the face of policing and what policy changes have been put in place since Floyd's death.

"We are committed to remaining open and transparent, and in those cases where we are wrong, accountable to the community," said Sheriff Mina.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said:

(Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings)

"We have all waited with great anticipation for the verdict in the trial involving the murder of George Floyd. As a 40-year veteran of law enforcement, I am pleased with the jury findings and now look to the sentencing phase to determine if justice prevails. We should remember that the majority of the men and women who protect and serve are good public servants who care about the welfare of their communities. But when officers cross the line and commit criminal acts, they must be prosecuted no differently than the people they serve." 

"I thought the verdicts as announced were correct," said Mark O'Mara, the attorney who represented George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. While O'Mara acknowledged that he has received his fair share of hate mail since that Zimmerman verdict in 2013, he said he has represented "literally thousands" of young, Black males in the criminal justice system over the course of his career.

"How could the Black community ever believe in the criminal justice system if they couldn't get a conviction here now? Having said that, this is one step in the right direction.  We are nowhere near done. This doesn't end it," he said, "but it does say that we are willing to hold cops responsible for their actions, and we're willing to look at a system and say it needs to be fixed."

"This was not justice. Justice would be George Floyd alive and well. There is still work to be done, and promises to be fulfilled," said Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe. "In Gainesville, we will continue to push forward in our effort to create a just, fair and equitable city for each of our neighbors."

Mayor Poe called on residents to shine porch lights on Tuesday evening. "Join us in this simple proclamation of peace. This covenant of unity. This promise of hope."

RELATED: Derek Chauvin verdict: Guilty on all counts

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