Lawyers on Monday laid out their cases in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, whose death sparked protests against racial injustice around the world.
While prosecutors tried to limit jurors’ focus to the roughly nine minutes that Derek Chauvin Floyd restrained, the former cop’s defense zoomed in on an extensive investigation involving nearly 50,000 pieces of evidence, questioning the cause of Floyd’s death and which is fair use. in effect.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said Chauvin betrayed his badge when he used excessive force to subjugate Floyd.
“You can believe your eyes,” he said. “It’s murder. It’s murder.”
Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that “Derek Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do during his 19-year career. The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary part of police work. ”
Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck screaming 27 times that he couldn’t breathe. Prosecutors have taken the rare step of filing criminal charges, and Chauvin’s case will be one of the most closely watched police misconduct lawsuit in a generation.
Both lawyers underlined that, despite intense public interest, Chauvin’s trial is separate from larger social questions about racism and accountability in the US police.
“I agree with the state attorney,” said Nelson. “There is no political or social reason in this courtroom.”
Chauvin is charged with second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has warned it will be difficult to get a conviction. The US legal system requires prosecutors to prove their guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and many jurors tend to trust police officers more than other witnesses.
An important piece of evidence for prosecutors is a video of Floyd’s death, which Blackwell showed as part of his opening statement. On May 25, police arrested Floyd for allegedly using a counterfeit $ 20 note, and Chauvin restrained Floyd by pressing him to the ground with a knee in the neck. A bystander filmed the arrest and then posted it online, sparking widespread outrage and protests.
Chauvin and the three other officers on the scene who did not intervene were fired. Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are accused of complicity in murder and will face trial in August. Keung’s lawyer has said he intends to plead not guilty.
Both the prosecution and the defense acknowledged in their opening statements that one of the key points of the case is the exact cause of Floyd’s death. An autopsy by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, who regarded Floyd’s death as murder, found evidence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his body and said he had sustained a “cardiopulmonary arrest.”
An independent autopsy ordered by Floyd’s family cited the cause of death as asphyxiation.
Nelson drew attention to Floyd’s drug use and said the evidence would show that he died of a cardiac arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat. But Blackwell said in his opening statement that such a death is instantaneous, whereas “Mr. Floyd did not die instantaneously. He died breath for breath. “
On the first day, the jury heard testimony from rescuer Jena Scurry and security guard Donald Williams, who is trained as a wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter.
Scurry said she watched the incident from a on-site camera. A “ gut feeling ” is something not quite right, ” prompted her to report the event to a sergeant, she said, adding that she didn’t want to be “ a traitor, ” but wanted to know if additional help is needed on the spot used to be.
Williams said he came across the incident while on a trip to a nearby supermarket. He told jurors that, based on his training, he identified Chauvin’s knee in Floyd’s neck as a dangerous ‘blood clot’.
“You can tell when someone is being suffocated,” he said. You could hear it [Floyd]see him struggling, actually gasping for breath. “
Supporters of the Floyd family held a prayer service Sunday evening at the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, addressed the Congregation, saying that neither Rodney King, beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers in 1991, nor Eric Garner, who died after being strangled to death in 2014 while passing through New York police were arrested, justice. He said he hoped events with Chauvin would be different.
“Give me a sentence,” he said. “Give the world what they want to see.”