George Floyd: Derek Chauvin Trial Begins
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, began on Monday morning. The trial was pushed back by two weeks after concerns arose about the jury’s ability to remain impartial.
Opening arguments for the controversial trial of Derek Chauvin began at 9:30 local time on Monday. The trial marks the first in the state to allow filming, with Judge Peter A. Cahill citing intense public interest and COVID-19 limitations on courtroom access.
The trial is taking place at the Hennepin County Government Center and was preceded by the family of George Floyd speaking outside the Courthouse. Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, affirmed that “somebody need[ed] to be held accountable.” Another family member stated: “the shade of your skin shouldn't be a death sentence, America is watching."
Leading up to the trial, Eric Nelson, defence attorney of Derek Chauvin, said that he was “gravely concerned” following Minneapolis City Council’s announcement that George Floyd’s family would be paid $27 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. Mr Nelson argued that the announcement came amid “suspicious timing” and could prove “highly prejudicial” against his client, who faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the case of Mr Floyd’s death last summer. The 12 jurors were subsequently screened on the order of Judge Cahill to see if anything had “change[d] their minds about whether they can be fair and impartial,” and were seated on the 18th of March.
Corporate lawyer Jerry Blackwell of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers began opening statements by recalling “what it means to be a public servant" and the "large accountability" that comes with being a sworn officer of the law. He continued to quote the Officer’s Oath and stated that Chauvin “betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force on the body of George Floyd, grinding and crushing him.”
The prosecution then showed the infamous tape of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd, with Blackwell stating the officer “engag[ed] in behaviour that was imminently dangerous, without regard for [the] impact on the body of George Floyd.” Blackwell turned to the jury and said, “we are going to prove to you that Chauvin's conduct was a substantial cause in George Floyd's death.”
The trial continues as a tall fence surrounds the courthouse. 2000 national guard troops are ready to help law enforcement in case of unrest.
Updates to follow