After hearing two weeks of testimony, the jury in Derek Chauvin’s trial began deliberations Monday to decide whether to convict the former Minneapolis police officer of murdering George Floyd last year.
The prosecution and defense delivered their lengthy closing arguments before the jurors, who will sequester during deliberations.
In his roughly two-hour closing statement, prosecutor Steve Schleicher outlined each of the three charges against Chauvin: second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. He said Chauvin “knew what he was doing” when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
“It was unnecessary,” Schleicher told the jury. “It was gratuitous. It was disproportionate and he did it on purpose. No question. This was not an accident. ... He betrayed the badge and everything it stood for.”
He asked the jurors to believe what they saw in video of the incident.
“It’s what you felt in your gut. It’s what you now know in your hearts,” Schleicher said. “This wasn’t policing. This was murder.”
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, took nearly three hours to deliver his closing remarks, arguing that his client acted as any “reasonable officer” would. He contended that Floyd’s underlying health conditions and the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, not Chauvin’s actions, were the cause of death.
“There’s lots of what-ifs, what could have happened, what should have happened,” Nelson said. “But we have to analyze this case from the perspective of a reasonable police officer at that precise moment with the totality of circumstances.”
Following the defense’s closing argument, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell gave the state of Minnesota’s rebuttal. He noted that Floyd lived for several years with heart disease, high blood pressure and opioid addiction and only died as a result of Chauvin’s “deadly force.”
“To use this badge as a license to abuse the public, to mistreat the public, to not follow procedures, to not render aid when you should have rendered aid — that’s wrong,” Blackwell told the jury.
“You were told ... that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big,” Blackwell said in closing. “The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
All eyes are on Minneapolis as the jury decides the fate of Chauvin and how justice will be delivered in Floyd’s death. The city is on edge as it awaits a verdict in the trial, and city officials have prepared for massive unrest should Chauvin be acquitted of the charges.
Tension in the region has escalated in recent days following the police killing of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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