Chauvin Prosecutors Go Big in Opening Arguments

They play video of the fatal arrest of George Floyd
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2021 11:42 AM CDT
In Opening Arguments, Prosecutors Show the Video
In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listen as Hennepin County Judge Peter?Cahill presides over pre-trial motions prior to opening statements Monday at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.   (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Opening arguments got underway Monday in the George Floyd trial, and prosecutors used more than words to lay out their case against former officer Derek Chauvin. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell played video shot by a bystander of the fatal arrest, saying he wanted jurors to see first-hand what happened "without lawyer talk," reports CNN. More:

  • Chauvin "put his knee upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath—no ladies and gentlemen, until the very life—was squeezed out of him," Blackwell told the jury, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • The officer "didn't let up" even after Floyd said he couldn't breathe 27 times, said the prosecutor. He asked jurors to remember the figure of 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the amount of time he said Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck. That's a revision from the initial accusation of 8:46, one based on new analysis of video, reports the Washington Post.
  • Defense attorney Eric Nelson, however, maintained that the evidence in the case is "far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds," per USA Today. Nelson argued that Floyd had underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system "that compromised an already compromised heart."
  • Blackwell, though, told jurors the medical examiner found no evidence of a weak heart. Floyd died "one breath at a time over an extended period of time," and the cause of death, cardiopulmonary arrest, is a result of Chauvin's behavior, he said. OD victims, he added, are "not screaming for their lives, they're not calling for their mothers, they're not saying 'Please, please, I can't breathe,' that's not what opioid overdose looks like."

  • Nelson urged jurors to remained focused on the particulars of the case, not the national reckoning on race that ensued. "There is no political or social cause in this court," he said, adding that Chauvin's arrest was by the book. "You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career."
  • Blackwell said one bystander, identifying herself as a member of the Minneapolis Fire Department, tried to administer first aid during the arrest. "She wanted to check on his pulse, check on Mr. Floyd’s well-being," Blackwell said, per the AP. "She did her best to intervene. When she approached Mr. Chauvin …. Mr. Chauvin reached for his Mace and pointed it in her direction. She couldn’t help."
  • Chauvin, 45, is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. Floyd 46, was arrested after being accused of trying to pass a fake $20 bill at a convenience store.
(More George Floyd stories.)

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