TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Leaders across the country, including in the Tampa Bay area, have been sounding off about the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial since a jury found the former Minneapolis officer guilty in the death of George Floyd on Tuesday.
City leaders, law enforcement officials and even sports teams in Tampa Bay reacted shortly after the verdict was announced Tuesday, most in support of the decision to convict Chauvin.
“A verdict can’t undo the tragedy of last summer, but this decision can ensure that George Floyd’s life was not lost in vain,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, the former chief of the Tampa Police Department, said in a statement. “His death is prompting the law enforcement profession to evolve across our country.”
Across the bay, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman tweeted and called the outcome “justice.”
“It should have never come to this. But, finally, #justice,” Kriseman wrote. “Let us not forget how much work we still have to do.”
8 On Your Side also reached out to a number of lawmakers serving the bay area for comment.
“No verdict can bring a life back, but it can serve justice. And I believe justice has been served,” State Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, said. “And we should continue to move forward with all deliberate speed in getting real reform at all levels, systemic and individually with individual officer. We support good policing. But good officers don’t want a bad officer standing next to them.”
Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who represents Florida’s 14th District – which includes Tampa – in the U.S. House, tweeted a statement in response to the guilty verdict.
“George Floyd should still be alive. Today’s ruling provides accountability for his wrongful death. I hope it brings his family and loved ones some peace,” Castor wrote. “It’s past time to seek justice for ALL of our neighbors… the ability to live without fear of dying at the hands of police.”
Local law enforcement leaders didn’t hesitate to weigh in on the conviction of the former officer either.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister posted a statement to social media saying, “[there] never will be, justification for the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former Officer Derek Chauvin.”
“Derek Chauvin does not represent the character, integrity, and honor of the thousands of men and women of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office who work tirelessly everyday to serve our community,” Chronister continued. “We will continue to build bridges with all members of our community and ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd also weighed in on Twitter.
“As I said at the time the video and facts came to light, had Mr. Chauvin done in Polk County what he did in Minneapolis he would have been fired and arrested that night,” Judd said. “Chauvin has had his day in court and he has been found guilty. That is our justice system at work. It’s not alright to violate the law. The jury has spoken. Chauvin is being held accountable.”
The North Port Police Department posted a message to social media from Chief Todd Garrison with the #together.
“I am hoping that today’s actions restore some faith in our criminal justice system,” the statement read, in part. “The North Port Police Department stands committed in restoring the communities’ trust in law enforcement and building relationships within our communities. We will not forget the oath that we all swore to and will continue to serve this great city with humility, dignity, respect and compassion.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released a statement on the conviction as well.
“After today’s verdict, there still remains much work left to be done. We stand committed to breaking down barriers to racial and social equality,” the organization said. “We will continue working to bring out communities together by engaging in purposeful conversations, mentoring youth, encouraging inclusivity and acceptance, and leading through meaningful action for comprehensive social reform.”