Jury in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin heard closing augments Monday from both the prosecution and the defense.
Presenting their closing arguments first, the prosecution appealed to the jury’s emotions by speaking of George Floyd’s “special bond” with his late mother. Noting that he would “cuddle” with her in “the fetal position,” they emphasized his physical struggle against Chauvin during the arrest and detainment on May 25.
For “nine minutes and 29 seconds,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher argued, Floyd was “desperate to breathe.”
“The force was too much, he was trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath him, as unyielding as the men pushing down,” he said, adding that Floyd was “a grown man crying out for his mother.”
Courteney Ross, who was dating Floyd before his death in May, testified that Floyd called her by the nickname “Mama,” which Floyd notably yelled out numerous times during his arrest and detainment by Minneapolis police officers. Therefore, it’s unclear if he was yelling out his girlfriend’s name, his late mother’s, or both.
With the “defendant’s weight on him, the lungs in his chest unable to expand,” Floyd “pushed with his face to lift himself so he could breathe,” Schleicher continued.
The prosecution also argued that there is no such thing as “super human strength,” that’s only in “comic books,” said Schleicher. “All that was needed was a little compassion; none was showed on that day. He also needed oxygen … [Chauvin] heard him, but just didn’t listen. … and [Chauvin] continued his assault.”
“The defendant had to know that … he had to know,” argued Schleicher.
The state also made the case that “police are not on trial” in this case, only Chauvin, who “betrayed the badge.”
“This is not an anti-police prosecution; it’s a pro-police prosecution,” Schleicher said.
“He did it on purpose, no question,” the prosecution claimed. “This was not an accident … and it killed George Floyd.”
Schleicher repeatedly argued that jurors need to “trust” what they saw when deciding on the charges.
"His name was George Perry Floyd Jr."
Prosecutors begin closing arguments in trial of Derek Chauvin, ex-officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 19, 2021
Chauvin and three other officers arrested and detained Floyd on May 25 after Floyd allegedly gave counterfeit money at a convenience store. Viral video shows that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back area for nearly nine minutes while detaining Floyd.
Chauvin’s attorneys are arguing that Floyd’s drug use was a crucial factor in his death. As highlighted by The Daily Wire, the Hennepin County medical examiner said that Floyd’s autopsy showed the deceased had potentially lethal levels of drugs in his system.
Chauvin is currently on trial for second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to Floyd’s death. The former officer can be found guilty of all, some, or none of the charges since they are all separate.
Kare 11 reported more detail into the charges:
Each charge will come with a detailed set of instructions for the jurors to follow as they seek to reach a unanimous verdict. For instance, to convict Chauvin on second-degree unintentional murder while committing a felony, the jury must decide that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death while committing a felony. In this case, that felony is third-degree assault, which has to involve “substantial bodily harm.”
The jury will have to consider complicated definitions of what it means to “cause” a person’s death, and what constitutes “substantial bodily harm.”
The third-degree murder charge is also complex, asking jurors to consider whether Chauvin committed “an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”
For second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors have to prove that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death by “culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.”
None of the charges prosecutors chose to levy against Chauvin require them to prove that he intended to kill Floyd.
Of course, the jury has to consider all these charges under the further complication of the lawful standard for police use of force, which must be “objectively reasonable” from the perspective of another reasonable officer in the same situation.
Since Chauvin has no criminal history, the defendant is likely looking at serving about 12 1/2 years if he is convicted of second- or third-degree murder, according to The Associated Press. The manslaughter charge, which has the lowest burden of proof, would bring a maximum of 10 years in prison.
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