Floyd family, supporters kneel in protest ahead of Minneapolis trial
Mar 30 2021
The family of George Floyd, their lawyers and hundreds of supporters joined the Rev. Al Sharpton in an act they said symbolizes the torture their loved one endured - taking a collective knee in front of the Hennepin County Courthouse on Monday morning and counting down the minutes former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the back of Floyd's neck. He looked up periodically at the video and jotted down notes on a yellow legal pad.
The May 2020 incident - in which Mr Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on the neck of Mr Floyd, who is black, in the city of Minneapolis - sparked protests in the United States and across the world against police brutality and racism.
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After this, some officers from the Minneapolis Police Department arrived at the spot and as they struggled to take Floyd in the backseat of their squad vehicle, Chauvin put his left knee on his neck, which eventually led to his death.
Defence lawyer Eric Nelson, in his opening statements, said that the evidence "is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds" of video footage.
Second-degree unintentional murder with a maximun 40 years in prison.
"Mr Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of George Floyd", Mr Blackwell said.
Floyd was resisting arrest, and Chauvin arrived to assist other officers who were struggling to get Floyd into a squad auto as the crowd around them grew larger and more hostile, Nelson said.
He said it showed Chauvin "grinding and crushing him until the very breath ... the very life was squeezed out of him".
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden would be among those following the trial.
Floyd, who was Black, was being arrested by Chauvin and other officers because he was suspected of using a fake $20 bill to buy groceries. But they said they could set that aside.
Mr Blackwell said so many onlookers were shocked by the treatment of Mr Floyd, several tried to call the police for their actions.
He said the evidence would show Mr Floyd "died of a cardiac arrhythmia, that occurred as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and adrenaline flowing through his body". Jury selection took more than two weeks, as jurors were questioned individually about their views on police, racial justice issues and pretrial publicity in the case.
The man accused, Derek Chauvin, says that he was following his training. "The facts are simple".
Mr Chauvin's trial is expected to last about a month.
The jury panel consists of eight white people and six black or mixed raced people.
They range in age from their 20s to their 60s and include a chemist, a social worker, an accountant and a nurse.
Mr Nelson asked to have the trial delayed and moved out of Minneapolis because of the 12 March announcement that the city had reached a $27 million "wrongful death" settlement with the Floyd family but Judge Peter Cahill rejected the demands.
Three other officers present - Tou Thao, J Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane - will go on trial later in the year.