LIVE: Trial of Ex-Officer Derek Chauvin Begins in Minneapolis Over Death of George Floyd

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “LIVE: Trial of Ex-Officer Derek Chauvin Begins in Minneapolis Over Death of George Floyd” – below is their description.

    (Mar. 29) Watch live as the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin charged with killing George Floyd begins on Monday, with prosecutors promptly showing the jury the video of Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on the Black man’s neck for several minutes as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off and Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe.

    In opening statements, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury that the number to remember was 9 minutes, 29 seconds — the amount of time Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the pavement with his knee last May in the case that triggered scattered violence and a national reckoning over racial injustice.

    The white officer “didn’t let up, he didn’t get up,” even after a handcuffed Floyd said 27 times that he couldn’t breathe and went motionless, 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,” the prosecutor said.

    Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson countered by arguing: “Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career.”

    Floyd was resisting arrest, and Chauvin arrived to assist other officers who were struggling to get Floyd into a squad car as the crowd around them grew larger and more hostile, Nelson said.

    The defense attorney also disputed that Chauvin was to blame for Floyd’s death.

    Floyd had none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation and had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, Nelson said. He said Floyd’s drug use combined with his heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as the adrenaline flowing through his body, to cause his death from a heart rhythm disturbance.

    “There is no political or social cause in this courtroom,” Nelson said. “But the evidence is far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds.”

    The medical examiner’s autopsy noted fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system but listed his cause of death as “cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”

    Chauvin, 45, is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

    The widely seen video sparked outrage across the U.S. and led to widespread protests and unrest, along with demands that the country confront racism and police brutality. Confederate statues and other symbols were pulled down around the U.S., and activists demanded that police department budgets be cut or overhauled.

    Playing the footage during opening statements underscored the central role video will play in the case. It was posted to Facebook by a bystander who witnessed Floyd’s arrest after he was accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.

    “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,” Floyd says, and “I can’t breathe officer.” Onlookers repeatedly shout at the officers to get off the 46-year-old Floyd. One woman, identifying herself as a city Fire Department employee, shouts at Chauvin to check Floyd’s pulse.

    Jurors watched intently as the video played on multiple screens, with one drawing a sharp breath as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin sat calmly during the opening statements and took notes, looking up at the video periodically.

    The timeline differs from the initial complaint filed last May by prosecutors, who said Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. In the following weeks, demonstrators staged “die-ins” lasting 8 minutes, 46 seconds, and 8:46 became a rallying cry in the case. The time was revised during the course of the investigation.

    Fourteen people in the jury box will hear the case — eight of them white, six of them Black or multiracial, according to the court. Two of the 14 will be alternates. The judge has not said which ones will be alternates and which ones will deliberate the case.

    Legal experts fully expected prosecutors to play the video to the jury early on.

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