America breathed a collective sigh of relief this afternoon when Minneapolis Judge Peter Cahill read out the verdict and ordered Derek Chauvin taken away in handcuffs. One bad cop is off the streets. The Rev. Al Sharpton—an important African-American leader seen long seen in New York as divisive, but now recognized as visionary—reminded us not to celebrate Chauvin’s conviction: ”we don’t celebrate a man going to jail, we would rather have George be alive.” That kind of grace has strengthened the movement for Black lives, making it into a big tent with room for corporate America, privileged whites, and allies in every corner apart from the unwashed Trump insurrectionists. Colin Kaepernick in 2021 is free to take a knee, freer than he was in 2016, when Barack Obama was president.

Our joy at seeing justice done for George Floyd’s death would be even sweeter if Chauvin’s trial had been a little more fair. Like most juries, this one was hot to convict. The defense lawyers seemed reluctant to interrupt the prosecution’s flow by making even the most rudimentary objections to the admission of evidence. Multiple experts told the jury what their verdict should be: not what Chauvin did, but what they thought about it. The defense even remained silent when bystanders testified about how their emotional responses to what they saw. Compelling testimony, indeed, but probative of nothing in issue in the case. Prosecutors are naturally a risk-averse breed, and these prosecutors diligently over-tried their case. They would have won even without the emotional window dressing.

Chauvin appears to be only the sixth officer convicted of murder for on-the-job conduct since 2005. That’s out of something on the order of 1,000 Americans shot and killed by police every year, including at least 64 since the trial began. Derek Chauvin had good reason to think he could get away with murder.

While no one should celebrate a criminal conviction, the remedy of civil liability can create help ease the pain of a family who has lost a loved one to police violence. George Floyd’s family settled quickly with Minneapolis for $27 million, likely the largest civil rights payout on record. New York City, however, pushes back hard against claims of wrongful death by cops. In one case our office is handling, New York City recently moved for summary judgment, i.e. to dismiss the case, despite evidence that police planted a toy gun to cover up the shooting of our clients’ son, Miguel RIchards, following a 15 minute standoff in which Miguel stood silent and motionless in his own bedroom while cops screamed at him. We are not expecting the police chief to come out and say it was a bad shoot, even though the details were caught on video.

Where do we go from here? The Minnesota attorney general’s office faces another, tougher challenge this summer as they proceed to trial against the three officers who warded off the crowd to enable Chauvin to complete his murder of George Floyd. Congress is debating the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which will go a long way towards reforming the current system. The Supreme Court could reverse the anti-democratic activism that led to “qualified immunity,” the judge-made doctrine that protects law enforcement officers from civil judgments when they violate the law. I hope people will stay in the streets and remain vigilant and angry as the “police-involved” carnage continues. And lawyers like us will keep the fight on the retail level, trying to win freedom and financial compensation for victims of government misconduct, one client at a time.