Hennepin County Government Center is pictured on the third day of the jury selection in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on March 11th. The prosecution and defense will make their opening arguments on Monday. Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption
Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images
Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images
Prosecutors and the defense will make their opening arguments in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday morning. The trial begins in earnest 10 months after George Floyd’s murder sparked outrage and protests against racial inequality in the United States.
Chauvin, who is white, is charged with accidental second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, who was black. Video shows that Floyd was handcuffed and held face down on the pavement – and that Chauvin held his knee by Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.
The court will meet at 10 a.m. CET on the trial, which is expected to take around four weeks. You can follow the process on NPR and on the member station Public radio in Minnesotawho have favourited Live Streaming Video Coverage from the Courtroom.
Hennepin County’s Medical Examiner ruled last June that Floyd’s death was a murder, stating that his heart and lungs stopped working “while he was being restrained”.
The autopsy report cited compression of the neck but also noted “other significant conditions” including fentanyl poisoning, recent methamphetamine use, and signs of heart disease.
Several legal questions are likely to determine the outcome of the case:
- Does the legal protection of the police free chauvin from responsibility for Floyd’s death?
- Could it be considered “reasonable” for Chauvin to have used the amount of violence he did?
- How far could other factors, such as Floyd’s recent drug use and health, have contributed to his death?
- If Chauvin was found to be the direct cause of Floyd’s death, which of the three charges would the jury agree on?
The much-anticipated trial is being watched closely as Floyd’s family and their supporters demand justice if they say it is an excessive use of force. Chauvin’s supporters say the officer only used force after Floyd refused to be put in a police car.
To reach the courtroom where the trial is taking place, jurors and attorneys must go through a series of security measures – including barricades, fences, and an accordion – that surround the building.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill oversees the process. In the last few weeks he has Defense motions rejected move the trial outside of Minneapolis or postpone the trial until the public subsides on the case.
“I don’t think that would allow the defendant to go through a fair trial beyond what we are doing here today,” said Cahill as he made his decision. “I don’t think there’s a place in Minnesota that hasn’t been exposed to extreme publicity in this case.”
Public awareness of the process also became an issue after the City of Minneapolis did one $ 27 million bill with Floyd’s family.
After the news broke, two jurors told the court that they could no longer promise to be impartial and they were removed from the panel. In the words of a juror, the payoff led him to believe the city admitted that “something was wrong” Public radio in Minnesota.
The 12-person jury consists of a black woman, three black men (two of whom are immigrants) and two women who identify as multiracial more diverse than Minneapolis. The rest of the jurors and three deputies are white, including six women.
The Chauvin Trial is already making history in Minnesota, where it will take place first case of the state Live television broadcast and streaming services. Minnesota previously banned almost all live video from courtrooms, but due to massive public interest, Cahill chose to give unprecedented access to this case.
Evidence presented during the trial includes recordings from the day of Floyd’s death, including the dramatic video of Chauvin holding Floyd on the tarmac.
“Please, please. I can’t breathe,” Floyd said repeatedly before he died.
Chauvin and the other three police officers on the scene – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane – were released the day after Floyd died. They were arrested a few days later. Thao, Kueng and Lane are charged with accessory to murder.
After his death on Memorial Day, Floyd’s name quickly became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement and its allies. His death, along with other high-profile police killings of black people, came from Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., too Jonathan Price Wolfe City, Texas, re-examined long-entrenched racism in the United States, particularly the decades of deadly violence black Americans have experienced since slavery was outlawed.
Over the past year, communities in the United States have re-examined the historical figures and monuments they honor, leading to the removal of nearly 100 Confederate monuments Hundreds of other monuments remain, according to an annual survey by the Southern Poverty Law Center.