(MINNEAPOLIS) — The prosecution and defense in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd are set to take their final cracks on Monday at swaying jurors after calling more than 40 witnesses and presenting numerous videos of the 46-year-old Black man’s fatal 2020 arrest.
Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:
Apr 19, 4:56 pm
Closing arguments have wrapped. Judge Cahill is now handing the case over to the jury.
Apr 19, 4:22 pm
Last witness is ‘common sense,’ state says in rebuttal argument
In the prosecution’s rebuttal, Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Jerry Blackwell brought “common sense” as the 46th witness in the case, stating that even a 9-year-old girl who witnessed Floyd’s death told Chauvin to get off of him.
“Why is it necessary to continue applying deadly restraint to a man who is defenseless, who is handcuffed, who is not resisting, who is not breathing, who doesn’t have a pulse, and to go on and do that for another 3-plus minutes before the ambulance shows up, and then to continue doing it?” Blackwell asked. “How is that a reasonable exercise in the use of force?”
Blackwell also disputed Nelson’s portrayal of Chauvin as a reasonable police officer, saying the defense did not give the jury “the whole truth.”
“Notice how when you had the discussion about reasonable officer Mr. Chauvin, the whole narrative cut off before we get to the point that Mr. Floyd was not moving, that he was not conscious, that he didn’t have a pulse, and Mr. Chauvin was still on top of him when the EMTs showed up, and he did not get off of him,” Blackwell said. “How is that what a reasonable officer does?”
Apr 19, 4:07 pm
Defense concludes closing argument
Nelson wrapped up his closing statement by stating that prosecutors failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and that Chauvin should be found not guilty on all counts.
“Human beings make decisions, in highly stressful, situations that they believe to be right in the very moment it is occurring. There’s lots of what-if’s that could have happened. What could have happened, what should have happened — lots of them in lots of regards,” Nelson said. “But we have to analyze this case from the perspective of a reasonable police officer at the precise moment, with the totality of the circumstances when it comes to the use of force.”
Cahill then sent the jury out for a five-minute lawyer conference.
Apr 19, 4:03 pm
Prosecutors want jury to ignore Floyd’s significant medical issues, defense says
When court resumed after a 30-minute break, Nelson continued his closing arguments, stating that Floyd’s death was actually a “multi-factorial” process and claiming that prosecutors want to ignore his significant medical issues.
Nelson said that, according to the state, Floyd’s coronary heart disease, hypertensive disease, use of drugs that acted further to constrict Floyd’s already diseased heart and adrenaline coursing through his body during the police confrontation were “not relevant.”
“They just want you to ignore significant medical issues that presented to Mr. Floyd,” Nelson said. “And the failure of the state’s experts to acknowledge any possibility, any possibility at all that any of these other factors in any way contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death defies medical science and it defies common sense and reason.”
Apr 19, 3:46 pm
Defense has resumed its closing arguments after the judge called for a lunch recess.
Apr 19, 3:01 pm
Defense attacks doctors who testified as witnesses for state
Nelson took down several of the doctors the prosecution brought on as witnesses, stating that they were incorrect in their testimonies.
Nelson criticized cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Rich, who concluded that Floyd had a strong heart despite a 90% narrowing of the right coronary artery, a 75% narrowing in the left anterior descending artery, enlarged heart and history of hypertension.
The testimonies of Rich and an additional four doctors fly “in the absolute face of reason and common sense,” especially in the testimony that none of Floyd’s preexisting conditions contributed to his death, Nelson said.
“It’s astounding,” he said.
Apr 19, 2:50 pm
State has a large burden of proof, defense says
Prosecutors have a laundry list of items to prove in order for Chauvin to be convicted, Nelson said.
The state’s burden of proof includes proving that Floyd’s heart disease, history of hypertension and toxicology levels played no role in his death, Nelson said.
The state must also convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Floyd was not experiencing excited delirium that contributed to his death and that the adrenaline produced as a result Floyd’s physical resistance played no role, Nelson said.
Apr 19, 2:33 pm
Defense urges jury to decide whether Chauvin intentionally applied unlawful force
Nelson argued that Chauvin had no intent to purposefully use unlawful force.
“Officer Chauvin made a decision not to use higher levels of force when he would have been authorized to do that, including punches, kicks, elbows,” Nelson said.
“All of these tools were available to Officer Chauvin,” Nelson said, adding that officers called for EMS within one minute of putting Floyd on the ground.
Apr 19, 2:25 pm
Chauvin did not perform CPR because the environment was becoming hostile, defense says
Chauvin was occupied with a hostile crowd when Floyd took his last breath, making it difficult to perform CPR, Nelson said.
It is written in the Minneapolis Police Department to stop CPR when it is no longer safe to perform it, Nelson said, citing the testimony by Minneapolis Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the department’s medical support officer, who discussed the difficulty of performing CPR in hostile environments.
“She described how it’s incredibly difficult to perform EMS efforts in a loud crowd, difficult to focus when you don’t feel safe, makes it more difficult to assess a patient and makes it more likely you can miss signs that a patient is experiencing something,” Nelson said. “So the distraction, she said, can actually do harm to a patient.”
Apr 19, 2:14 pm
Crowds can change rapidly, defense says
Chauvin would have been paying attention to the behavior of the crowd surrounding him and the other officers while restraining Floyd, Nelson said.
Minnesota Police Department training includes tactics on how to deal with a crowd, especially to “never underestimate a crowd.”
“Crowds are very dynamic creatures and can change rapidly,” Nelson said.
The bystanders on the scene of the Cup Foods began to raise their voices and call Chauvin names as the incident went on, Nelson said.
How Chauvin interacted with a crowd is in line with how a reasonable police officer would act, Nelson said.
Apr 19, 1:41 pm
The cellphone video is not the ‘proper analysis,’ defense says
The 9-minute and 29-second cellphone video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd “completely disregards” what happened leading up to the restraint, Nelson said.
While the prosecution has been focusing on the length of the cellphone video, “a reasonable police officer would have taken into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” which included Floyd’s resistance, Nelson said.
“Human behavior is unpredictable, and nobody knows it better than a police officer,” Nelson said. “Someone can be compliant one second and fighting the next. Someone can be fighting and then compliant.”
Apr 19, 1:30 pm
Government buildings in downtown Minneapolis are being fortified in the event of unrest following a verdict in the Chauvin trial.
Apr 19, 1:24 pm
Defense plays police body camera footage of Floyd being put into the squad car
Floyd was engaging in active resistance when Chauvin arrived on the scene of the Cup Foods, Nelson said.
Nelson played the video from Nelson’s body camera that showed two other officers struggling to put Floyd into the squad car as evidence of Floyd’s resistance.
Nelson explained that a reasonable officer at that point would determine that the amount of force being used by the officers trying to put Floyd into the car was not enough to overpower Floyd’s resistance.
Apr 19, 1:19 pm
Defense explains what a ‘reasonable’ police officer would do
After Nelson asked whether Chauvin’s actions were an authorized use of force by a police officer, he went into detail on how a reasonable police officer would have approached the situation.
A reasonable police officer wants to keep his fellow officers, civilians and the person being arrested safe, Nelson said. A reasonable police officer also thinks about resources, such as where the closest hospital is or what the response time for EMS would be.
The direct knowledge that a police officer would have when use of force occurs is information from dispatch, direct observations of the scene and whether the subject was under the influence of a controlled substance, Nelson said.
When Chauvin arrived on the scene of the cup foods, he saw the suspect, who was 6 feet or taller and appeared to be under the influence, Nelson said.
“The situation is dynamic, and it’s fluid,” Nelson said.
Apr 19, 1:00 pm
‘A criminal case is kind of like baking chocolate chip cookies,’ defense says
Nelson used a baking analogy to explain what is necessary to find a defendant in a criminal trial guilty.
“I say that the criminal case is kind of like baking chocolate chip cookies,” Nelson said. “You have to have the necessary ingredients. You got to have flour, and sugar and butter and chocolate chips, and whatever else goes into those chocolate chip cookies. If you have all of the ingredients, you can make chocolate chip cookies. But if you’re missing any one single ingredient, you can’t make chocolate chip cookies. It’s a simple kind of analogy. But the criminal law works the same way.”
Chauvin removed his face mask as he watched Nelson’s closing argument.
Apr 19, 12:42 pm
Defense begins closing arguments
Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, began his closing statement by reminding the jurors that Chauvin is presumed innocent and does not have to prove his innocence.
Nelson also read the definition of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the judge read to the jury in his instructions earlier in the day.
Apr 19, 12:21 pm
‘This wasn’t policing, this was murder … there is no excuse’: Schleicher
Schleicher ended his closing statement by emphasizing that Chauvin’s actions were “not policing” but rather murder, urging the jury to trust their eyes and gut.
“The defendant is guilty of all three counts. All of it. And there’s no excuse,” Schleicher said.
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson will give his closing argument after a 20-minute break.
Apr 19, 12:05 pm
Chauvin displayed ‘conscious indifference’ in his encounter with Floyd: Schleicher
Schleicher played the portion of the cellphone video where Floyd asked Chauvin for water and told him he could not breathe to show that Chauvin was indifferent to the distress Floyd was in.
Chauvin displayed “conscious indifference” to Floyd as he “leisurely” picked rocks out of a tire and commented on the smell of Floyd’s feet, even as Floyd’s voice became weaker, Schleicher said. Chauvin also ignored Floyd’s pleas and failed to provide medical attention, Schleicher added.
“This isn’t protection,” Schleicher said. “This isn’t courage. And it certainly — certainly is not and was not compassion. It was the opposite of that.”
Apr 19, 11:51 am
The state does not have to prove Chauvin intended to kill Floyd, prosecutor says
Chauvin’s actions were intentional because he knew that kneeling on Floyd’s neck was dangerous and an unlawful use of force, Schleicher said.
“We don’t have to show that the Defendant intended to kill him,” he said. “The only thing about the defendant’s intent that we have to prove is that he applied force to George Floyd on purpose, that this wasn’t an accident.”
Apr 19, 11:25 am
‘Common sense’ that Floyd died because Chauvin pressed down on his lungs, state says
Floyd died because of a low level of oxygen, not because of a drug overdose or a preexisting heart condition, as the defense attempted to portray, Schleicher said.
“‘Die of a drug overdose,’ that’s not common sense, that’s nonsense,” Schleicher said.
The prosecutor continued, “Believe your eyes. What you saw happened, happened. It happened. The defendant pressed down on George Floyd so his lungs did not have the room to breathe.”
Apr 19, 11:17 am
Putting Floyd in the prone position was ‘completely unnecessary,’ prosecutor says
Floyd was already handcuffed on the ground, positioned on his side, when he was then put in the prone position, on his stomach, Schleicher said.
While a subject is on his side, known as the “prone recovery position,” it provides room for the chest to expand so he can breathe, Schleicher said.
Putting Floyd on his stomach after he was already in the recovery position was “completely unnecessary,” Schleicher said.
“That is when the excessive force began,” he said.
Apr 19, 11:06 am
‘What the defendant did was an assault’: Prosecutor
Apr 19, 11:03 am
George Floyd is not the one on trial, state says
Schleicher reminded the jury that Floyd is not the defendant in the case, pointing to the testimony that characterized Floyd as having a drug addiction and the accusation that he used a fake $20 bill in the Cup Foods, which prompted the 911 call that brought Chauvin to the scene.
“But he is not on trial,” Schleicher. “He didn’t get a trial when he was alive, and he is not on trial here.”
Schleicher also dismissed claims the defense made that Floyd was noncompliant and resisting arrest, stating that Floyd followed commands to put his hands on the steering wheel upon his first encounter with Minnesota Police officers.
“That is not resistance,” Schleicher said. “That is compliance.”
Apr 19, 10:55 am
‘This is not a prosecution of the police,’ prosecutor says
Schleicher made “very clear” that the state was prosecuting Derek Chauvin, not the Minneapolis Police Department, calling policing a “most noble profession.”
“This case is called the State of Minnesota versus Derek Chauvin,” Schleicher said. “This case isn’t called the State of Minnesota versus the police.”
Schleicher also said that Chauvin is not on trial for who he was, a police officer, but for “what he did,” pointing to the multiple witnesses on the scene who felt compelled to call the police on the police.”
He accused Chauvin of abandoning his values and training.
“He did not follow the department’s use of force rules,” Schleicher said. “He did not perform CPR. He knew better. He just didn’t do better.”
Apr 19, 10:45 am
Floyd’s last words were ‘Please. I can’t breathe.’: Prosecutor
Schleicher emphasized to the jury that Floyd’s last words were to plead with Chauvin.
“Floyd’s final words were, ‘Please. I can’t breathe,"” Schleicher said. “He said those words to the defendant. He asked for help with his very last breathe.”
Rather than help, Chauvin “continued to push him down, to grind his knees, to twist his hand and twist his fingers into the handcuffs that bound him,” Schleicher said.
Apr 19, 10:38 am
Prosecutor describes George Floyd’s relationship with his mother
Hennepin County Prosecutor Steve Schleicher began the state’s closing arguments by describing Floyd’s relationship with his mother, Larcenia Jones Floyd, the matriarch of the family.
“And you heard about the special bond that she and George Floyd shared during his life.” Schleicher said. “You heard about their relationship, how he would always take time, special attention to be with his mother, how he would still cuddle with her in the fetal position.”
Floyd could be heard in cellphone video calling out for his mother as Chauvin kneeled on top of him.
Apr 19, 10:17 am
Judge gives jury instructions
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read instructions to the jury before closing arguments began.
Cahill also gave the jury definitions for reasonable doubt and reminded the jury to consider all the evidence they have heard or seen in court.
Apr 19, 9:54 am
Closing arguments to begin Monday morning
The attorneys will begin presenting their closing arguments in the high-profile case just after 10 a.m. local time, with prosecutors, who allege Chauvin killed Floyd on May 25, 2020, by holding his knee on the back of his neck for over 9 minutes, going first.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson is expected to counter that Chauvin, a 19-year police veteran, was abiding by his police training when he and two other officers put a handcuff Floyd in a prone restraint and that a sudden heart attack and drugs in his system killed him more so than Chauvin’s knee.
Once the closing arguments wrap up, the jury will be sequestered while they deliberate a verdict.
The Chauvin jury is composed of eight people who are white and six who identify as people of color, including four who are Black. They range in age from their early 20s to 60.
Among the panel are a tax auditor, an executive for a nonprofit health care company, a grandmother with an undergraduate degree in childhood psychology, a banker, an information technology manager who speaks multiple languages and a motorcycle-riding executive assistant.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and chose not to testify in his own defense.
During the trial, which began on March 29 and enters its 15th day on Monday, prosecutors relied heavily on video taken of the deadly encounter by multiple bystanders, surveillance and police body camera to make their case that the use of force Chauvin applied on Floyd was unreasonable, unnecessary and not part of any training or policies of the Minneapolis Police Department.
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