Derek Chauvin trial: George Floyd 'slowly fading away' during police arrest

MINNEAPOLIS MN- MARCH 29 Attorney Ben Crump

"The evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds", he said.

In Minneapolis, opening statements begin today in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes.

Less than three miles away, residents maintain a vigil at the intersection where Chauvin kept his knee on a handcuffed Floyd's neck for about 9 minutes as Floyd uses his final breaths to plead for his life. "Everything hurts", Floyd says, and: "I can't breathe, officer".

The jury of nine women and five men watched intently while the video was played in a hushed Minneapolis courtroom.

When jurors weigh the evidence and the law and "apply reason and common sense", Nelson said, "there will only be one just verdict, and that is to find Mr. Chauvin not guilty". It's not that he looks inebriated or intoxicated at all when you look at that video.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's May 25, 2020, death.

Blackwell said in his opening statement that the 44-year-old defendant was not following police procedure and acted callously.

The tape proves Mr Chauvin was "engaging in behaviour that was imminently unsafe. without regard for its impact on the body of George Floyd", Mr Blackwell said.

"He put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath - no ladies and gentlemen - until the very life, was squeezed out of him", Blackwell said.

But defense attorney Eric Nelson countered in his opening argument, "Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do in his 19-year career" to restrain Floyd after he had resisted arrest.

Floyd's death ignited a global protest movement and over the preceding two weeks of jury selection, many jurors told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill and the lawyers on each side that they recognized the scrutiny their deliberations would come under, not least by those who view the trial as a reckoning for how Black people are policed in the United States.

On Sunday night, national civil rights leaders appeared at a prayer service alongside several of Floyd's family members.

MINNEAPOLIS MN- MARCH 29 Attorney Ben Crump
Attorney Ben Crump counts off 8 minutes as he takes a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds with members of George Floyds family and Rev. Al Sharpton

At the White House Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President Joe Biden will be watching the trial "closely".

"She wanted to check on his pulse, check on Mr. Floyd's well-being, " Blackwell said.

A National Guard vehicle outside the Hennepin County Government Center, in Minneapolis, Minn., on March 22, 2021. He said Chauvin pointed Mace at her.

Crump and members of the Floyd family then took a knee for the amount of time Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck.

Defence lawyer Nelson used his opening statement to describe Mr Floyd's drug use and a chaotic scene during the arrest, saying the screaming of bystanders ended up "causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr Floyd".

"There is no political or social cause in this courtroom", Mr Nelson said.

Crump said Chauvin's defense attorney is "going to try to assassinate the character of George Floyd".

Prosecutors say Chauvin is responsible for killing Floyd, but the defense says that Floyd's health issues and drug use aggravated a heart condition and that Chauvin should be absolved. "The facts are simple". "At the time of George Floyd's death, he talked about this as being an event that really opened up a wound in the American public".

They will remain anonymous and unseen throughout the televised trial, which is expected to last about four weeks.

The jury, including three alternates, is made up of six white women, three white men, three Black men, one Black woman and two multiracial women, according to court records.

They range in age from their 20s to their 60s and include a chemist, a social worker, an accountant and a nurse.

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