After three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses, on Monday the lawyers gave their closing arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd.
Judge Peter A. Cahill began the day with instructions to the jury, whose job it is to determine whether Mr. Chauvin is guilty of the charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. For second-degree murder, the most serious charge, the state must prove that Mr. Chauvin assaulted Mr. Floyd and that the sexual assault was a substantial factor in his death.
Prosecutors don't have to prove that he intended to kill Mr. Floyd.
The arguments began with an impressive rebuke to the defense's case by one of the prosecutors, Steve Schleicher. He called several points of the defense & # 39; nonsense & # 39; and said Mr. Chauvin had betrayed his oath as a police officer.
Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin's attorney, for his part, asked jurors to take all the evidence, criticizing the state for rejecting other possible contributing factors to Mr. Floyd's death, including heart problems and drug use.
Here are some important takeaways.
Mr. Schleicher started with a chilling description of the arrest, setting the tone for his main argument: jurors should "Believe their eyes" as they watch Mr. Floyd pressed to the ground for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Mr Schleicher spoke of the & # 39; unyielding pavement & # 39; and what he thought was Mr. Floyd's desperate struggle to lift his chest and fill his lungs with air. He reminded jurors of Mr. Floyd's last words: "Please, I can't breathe."
He confirmed what Mr. Floyd's brother and ex-girlfriend told the jury: that Mr. Floyd was loved by many people who knew him, that he loved his mother, that he more than the symbol he became in deathHe died "surrounded by strangers," said Mr. Schleicher – wedged between the sidewalk and Mr. Chauvin's knee. & # 39; Not a familiar face to say his last words, & # 39; said Mr. Schleicher. & # 39; But he said them to someone – he said them to someone he didn't know by name, but he knew him from the uniform he wore and the badge he wore, and he called him & # 39; Mr. Officer. & # 39; "
A primary focus of the Prosecution was to reject some of the defense's arguments.You don't have to accept nonsense, ”Said Mr. Schleicher to jurors, noting the opinion of a defensive witness that Mr. Chauvin & # 39; s reticence from Mr. Floyd was not using force and that a police cruiser exhaust pipe may have contributed to Mr. Floyd & # 39; s dead. "Use common sense," said Mr Schleicher. & # 39; Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw. "
Mr Nelson focused largely on whether Mr Chauvin was acting that way a reasonable cop would. He reinforced ideas he had put forward during the three weeks of testimony, including that suspects who don't seem dangerous can quickly become so. & # 39; A reasonable police officer understands the intensity of the battle, & # 39; he said, noting how difficult it was for Mr. Chauvin and other officers to put Mr. Floyd in the back of a police cruiser.
He also highlighted the moment when Mr. Floyd took his last breath and showed those few seconds from the vantage point of a security camera. At that moment, Mr. Nelson said, a crowd of angry bystanders, who could also threaten officers, grew louder and louder, and Mr. Chauvin pulled a can of club from his belt – a sign that he felt he was in danger"All evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought he was in training," he said.
Mr. Nelson struck the problem of "intention To ask jurors to consider whether Mr. Chauvin would have deliberately caused unlawful harm to Mr. Floyd. Noticing that several body-worn cameras were recording the incident, along with bystanders' cell phones, Mr. Nelson told the jurors why someone would intentionally break the rules if they knew they were being filmed and that their actions would be judged by their supervisors.
To Mr. Floyd's cause of deathMr. Nelson that it was "ridiculous" for the state and several of its witnesses to ask jurors to ignore many possible contributing factors, including Mr. Floyd and drug use. He maintained that the focus of the defense on Mr. Floyd's drug use was not an attack on his character, but was motivated by the medical significance of the matter.
Jerry Blackwell, another prosecutor, responded to the defense by continuing to urge jurors to follow "common sense," saying that even a 9 year old girl who testified earlier in the trial could see that Mr. Chauvin mr. Floyd hurt.
Using a chart that had a point for each day that Mr. Floyd was alive, Mr. Blackwell was talking about it how unlikely it would be that Mr. Floyd would accidentally die on May 25, if Mr. Chauvin had not been used by force. Jurors have to decide whether Mr. Chauvin's reluctance was a "real factor" in Mr. Floyd's death, not whether it was the only factor.
Mr. Blackwell ended his rebuttal by reminding the jurors that some witnesses had said that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. “Now that you've seen all the evidence and heard all the evidence, you know the truth,” he said. The truth is, the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small.