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George Floyd's death: jury begins deliberating in Chauvin case

2021-04-20T02:32:25.256Z

The jury heard the final arguments of the Prosecutor's Office and the defense in the trial against Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd.



Prosecution: George Floyd asked for help with his last breath 1:51

Minneapolis (CNN) -

After a day of final arguments, the jury's deliberations in the trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd began toward the end of Monday.

In his closing arguments, a prosecutor said that Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck and back for 9 minutes and 29 seconds because of his pride and ego in front of concerned witnesses.

He wasn't going to let those passersby tell him what to do.

He was going to do what he wanted, how he wanted, for as long as he wanted.

And there was nothing, nothing they could do about it because he had the authority.

He had the power, and the other cops, bystanders, didn't, "said prosecutor Steve Schleicher.

"He was trying to win, and George Floyd paid for it with his life."

The comments on Chauvin's pride and ego were the first time that prosecutors specifically discussed the mindset of the ex-cop at the time Floyd died on May 25, 2020. Elements that are key to the willful murder charges and involuntary manslaughter in an act that is eminently dangerous for others accused of him.

In response, defense attorney Eric Nelson said Chauvin acted as a "sensible agent" would in that situation.

He also added that there was no evidence that Chauvin intentionally or purposely used force that was illegal.

“You have to look at it from the standard of a reasonable police officer.

Keep in mind that officers are human beings, capable of making mistakes in stressful situations, ”said Nelson.

“In this case, the totality of the circumstances known to a reasonable police officer at the precise moment the force was used shows that it was an authorized use of force, however unattractive it may be.

This is reasonable doubt, ”he insisted.

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Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell then rejected the defense's claim that Floyd died of a condition known as dilated heart or dilated cardiomyopathy.

"The reason George Floyd died is because Mr. Chauvin's heart is too small," he said.

Judge Peter Cahill briefed jurors on the law before and after closing arguments.

Then he sent them out of the room just after 5 p.m. Miami time.

The jury will be isolated for deliberations and will stay in a hotel for the night.

During the trial, prosecutors called 38 witnesses to testify.

Among them, experts in the use of force by the police who criticized Chauvin and medical experts who explained how Floyd died.

The defense called seven of its own witnesses, but not Chauvin himself, as he invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

If convicted, he could face 40 years in prison for willful manslaughter, up to 25 years for manslaughter in an act eminently dangerous to others, and up to 10 years for manslaughter.

The charges must be considered separately.

So Chauvin could be condemned by all, some or none of them.

The end of the trial comes 11 months after Floyd's death, on a Minneapolis street, sparked widespread protests over police treatment of blacks.

A photo of George Floyd hangs on a fence barrier surrounding the Hennepin County Government Center on March 30, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Regardless of the verdict in this trial, the broader issue shows no signs of fading.

Last week, a few miles from the courthouse, a Brooklyn Center police officer was charged with manslaughter after fatally shooting Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop.

The memory of George Floyd at the Wright protests 0:45

Tension is high throughout the region, and authorities have tightened security around Minneapolis.

The Hennepin County Government Center has been surrounded by fences and barricades since jury selection began in March.

Last week, teams installed barbed wire around some police buildings.

National Guard troops have also been deployed to parts of downtown Minneapolis.

Gov. Tim Walz requested additional help from Ohio and Nebraska law enforcement before the verdict, according to a press release from his office Monday.

Prosecutor's Office «Believe in what you see»

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked jurors to find Chauvin guilty on all three counts.

In his closing statement, Schleicher spoke for one hour and 43 minutes to show that Chauvin used undue and excessive force and caused Floyd's death.

  • What George Floyd asked with his "last breath": closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial

He contrasted Chauvin's "ego-based pride" with the prideful feelings of wearing a police badge and praised such work as a noble profession.

He insisted that the state charged Chauvin individually, not the police in general.

"This is not an accusation against the police, but an accusation in favor of the police," he said.

"There is nothing worse for a good cop than a bad cop."

Schleicher's final argument was based on a series of videos showing Chauvin's actions that day, explicitly linking them to the language of each charge.

"George Floyd's last words on May 25, 2020 were, 'Please, I can't breathe,' and he said those words to Derek Chauvin," Schleicher told jurors.

"All that was required was a little compassion, and none was shown that day," he insisted.

Schleicher told jurors to reject the defense theories and look at what they know happened.

They must focus on what happened.

George Floyd was not a threat, he never was.

He was not resisting.

He just wasn't able to obey.

They should have recognized that, ”he said.

“The defendant was on top of him, stayed on top of him, pushing, his knees against him.

Pressing on him, continuing to twist his arm against the handcuffs.

It is a technique of obedience for pain without the opportunity to obey, "he added.

In the end, Schleicher simplified the case into a concise argument: "Believe him in his eyes."

“This case is exactly what you thought when you first saw it, when you saw that video.

It is exactly that.

They can believe their eyes.

It is exactly what they believed.

It is exactly what they saw with their eyes.

It is exactly what they knew, what they felt in their guts.


It is what they now know in their hearts, "he said.

This was not police work.

This was a murder, "he completed.

Defense: 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignore the full story

Defense attorney Nelson said the prosecution's emphasis on 9 minutes and 29 seconds omits the whole story.

Nelson's case for acquitting Chauvin has been to argue that his use of force was appropriate, that he was distracted by the hostile crowd of witnesses, and that Floyd died due to the use of fentanyl and methamphetamine, his resistance to officers and his problems with underlying health.

He said the prosecution's approach to 9 minutes and 29 seconds, rather than Floyd's active resistance in the previous minutes, was inappropriate.

«It is not the proper analysis, because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignore the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds.

They ignore them completely, ”he said.

Human behavior is unpredictable.

And nobody knows it better than a police officer.

  • Former cop Derek Chauvin knelt over George Floyd 9 minutes and 29 seconds, longer than the infamous 8:46

Nelson argued that Chauvin had no intention of using illegal force and that he continued his training.

“These are officers who do their job in a highly stressful situation, in accordance with their training, in accordance with the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department.

It is tragic.

It's tragic, ”he said.

During the immobilization, he said, bystanders were in their own crisis and made the scene unsafe so that Chauvin could help and tend to Floyd.

The moment Floyd took his last breath, Chauvin drew his mace to hold back the crowd and an off-duty firefighter approached the scene from behind, scaring him, Nelson said.

“All these events and circumstances occur simultaneously at a critical moment.

That changed Agent Chauvin's perception of what was happening, "he said.

Nelson highlighted Floyd's use of fentanyl and methamphetamine and his heart problems.

He also expressed disbelief that the prosecution doctors ruled them out as the cause of his death.

“I would dare to say that it is nonsense that none of these other factors had an influence.

That is not reasonable, ”he said.

He spoke for about two and a half hours before Judge Cahill forced him to pause so the jury could have lunch.

A reporter who was inside the court observed that the jury appeared to be restless, with several rubbing their eyes and moving.

After the break, Nelson spoke for about 15 more minutes.

Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell objected to the defense's contention that every story is two-sided.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell objected to the defense's claim that there are two versions to every story.

"There really aren't two sides to the story as to whether this force is unreasonable," he said.

He noted that, legally, prosecutors did not have to show that Chauvin's actions were the sole cause of death, only that they were a substantial causal factor in Floyd's death.

  • Witnesses to George Floyd's death, including a 9-year-old girl, explain their horror and fear

In addition, he defended the crowd of passersby, referring to them as a "cluster of humanity" who came together to try to help a stranger who was suffering.

They were distraught, Blackwell said, torn between their respect for the police and their concern for Floyd's life, but did not physically intervene.

"They respect this badge, even if it destroys them inside," he said.

45 witnesses over three weeks of testimony

The prosecution's case was divided into three distinct phases with 38 witnesses: what happened to Floyd last May, the Minneapolis Police use of force policy, and the medical analysis of why Floyd died.

The first week of testimonies focused heavily on Floyd's last moments and the distraught bystanders who saw Chauvin kneel over Floyd while he was handcuffed and lying on the street.

Videos of bystanders and police body camera footage showed Floyd gasping and calling his "mom" during those excruciating minutes, leaving several witnesses with tears in their eyes.

Subsequently, a number of police supervisors and experts in the use of force criticized Chauvin's actions as excessive and unreasonable.

They said it had violated de-escalation policies, the objectively reasonable use of force and the requirement to provide assistance.

Among the most critical was Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

“That is not, in any way, something that is in politics.

It is not part of our training, and it certainly is not part of our ethics or our values, ”said Arradondo.

  • George Floyd's death was a "murder" and the accused officer "knew what he was doing," says the Minneapolis police chief.

Medical testimony, especially that of Dr. Martin Tobin, exposed the mechanics of how Floyd died.

The renowned pulmonary critical care physician testified that Floyd died from "low oxygen" when Chauvin pinned him on the street and restricted his ability to breathe, known as positional asphyxia.

In contrast, the defense team for the former Minneapolis cop called seven witnesses, but Chauvin was not among them.

An expert on the use of force by the police testified that Chauvin's subjection to Floyd was "justified", and a forensic pathologist testified that Floyd's cause of death was "undetermined".

In that sense, he indicated that his underlying heart problems were the main causes.

Several other defense witnesses have testified about Floyd's drug use.

Especially during a previous arrest in May 2019 in which he ingested opioids while police approached him in a vehicle.

Taken together, the witnesses advanced the three main defense arguments in the case: that Floyd died due to drug and health problems, that Chauvin's use of force was unpleasant but appropriate, and that the hostile crowd of Passersby distracted Chauvin.

- CNN's Ray Sánchez and Brad Parks contributed to this report.

George Floyd Trial

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-04-20

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