27.09.2021

Will he take the stand and what is he charged with?

Though Mr Chauvin has the right to testify at his trial, it is not yet known if he will do so. However, the trial is expected to last four weeks and the defence and prosecution teams will release more information as proceedings move forward.

Mr Chauvin’s defence team, led by lawyer Eric Nelson, is being paid for by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, as although he and three other offices were fired after Mr Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Police Department still has a membership.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, last May, is now in its third day.

Mr Chauvin faces three charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.

The murder charges could carry 40 and 25-year sentences, respectively. Mr Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

The defence argument centres on there being more factors to consider beyond video footage of Mr Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck during the incident on 25 May 2020.

“There is no political or social cause in this courtroom,” Mr Nelson told the court. “But the evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds.”

Four officers were called to the scene on reports that George Floyd was using a counterfeit $20 bill. As Mr Chauvin detained Mr Floyd, he was filmed kneeling on the man’s neck while Mr Floyd pleaded for air and eventually lost consciousness.

“Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career,” Mr Nelson added. “The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary part of policing.”

The defence will draw attention to Mr Floyd’s size, that he resisted arrest, and that he had drugs in his system at the time – which they argue were the cause of death when combined with his pre-existing health conditions. They may also contend that the crowd of onlookers was a distraction to the officers.

Testimony direct from Mr Chauvin or the other officers present may serve to further these arguments.

Among several pieces of compelling testimony on day two of the trial, one of the bystanders that day, off-duty Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen, said that she pleaded with officers to check Mr Floyd’s pulse and was not permitted to give him medical attention.

There is extensive footage of her interaction with the officers, in addition to those of the other witnesses. Ms Hansen resorting to calling 911 to report the incident.

Another bystander, Donald Williams, also shouted at the police to get off Mr Floyd, but rejected claims by the defence team that he “grew angrier and angrier”. Mr Williams also called the police after the incident to report that officers had murdered Mr Floyd.

Darnella Frazier, the teenage girl who filmed the video in which Mr Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn’t breathe, said that the group of bystanders had become loud and called Mr Chauvin names, but no one threatened him and he did not seem scared by them.

The protests and unrest that followed the events of that day last summer renewed a nationwide reckoning around racism, policing, and civil rights that continues to this day.

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