MINNEAPOLIS – Attorneys began closing arguments Monday in the murder and manslaughter trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, 46.
Update 9:25 p.m. ET April 19: The jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin have concluded deliberating for the day without reaching a verdict, the Hennepin County Court confirmed.
Deliberations began just after 5 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m. ET.
The court did not indicate what time the panel, which is being sequestered, is expected to resume deliberations Tuesday morning.
Update 8:58 p.m. ET April 19: The judge overseeing the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd called recent comments by a U.S. congresswoman “abhorrent” and potential grounds for appeal, but he denied the defense’s motion to declare a mistrial based on the statements.
Judge Peter Cahill said that U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters’, D-California, recent suggestion that racial justice protesters should “get more confrontational” if the jury fails to return a guilty verdict could affect the outcome of Chauvin’s trial, The New York Times reported.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill told defense attorney Eric Nelson, who had requested the mistrial be granted because Waters had interfered with the “sanctity of the jury process.”
Although he denied Nelson’s motion for a mistrial, Cahill did call it “disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch” for elected officials to comment on a case’s outcome.
“Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent, but I don’t think it has prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury. They have been told not to watch the news. I trust they are following those instructions,” Cahill said.
Update 6:46 p.m. ET April 19: In advance of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz requested additional law enforcement assistance from Ohio and Nebraska late Monday afternoon.
“As the world awaits a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, we need support in our efforts to preserve the First Amendment right of peaceful protests while protecting public safety,” Walz said in a prepared statement announcing the request.
“I am grateful to our colleagues in Ohio and Nebraska for their willingness to provide assistance and relief to our state troopers and law enforcement officers as they continue to work to keep the peace in our communities,” he stated.
Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, confirmed during at a Monday news conference that 28 officers from the Ohio State Highway and Nebraska State patrols are en route to assist wherever they are needed.
“State troopers from the supporting states will report to the Minnesota State Patrol and will be assigned to security missions at key state facilities, allowing Minnesota State Patrol Troopers and Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers to support Operation Safety Net in the metro area,” Walz stated.
Update 6:35 p.m. ET April 19: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has activated 125 Illinois National Guard members to support the Chicago Police Department in anticipation of the jury’s verdict being reached in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
According to a news release issued by Pritzker’s office late Monday afternoon, the guard members will be deployed to Chicago on Tuesday.
“At the request of [Chicago] Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot, I am activating members of the Illinois National Guard to support the city in keeping our communities safe,” Pritzker said in the statement. “It is critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice that holds back too many of our communities continue to be able to do so. Members of the Guard and the Illinois State Police will support the City of Chicago’s efforts to protect the rights of peaceful protestors and keep our families safe.”
The guard members will also be charged with assisting and managing street closures and “supporting First Amendment rights,” the release stated.
Meanwhile, Lightfoot told CNN that the city’s “greatest priority at all times is ensuring the safety and security of the public.”
“While there is no actionable intelligence at this time, we want to be fully prepared out of an abundance of caution,” Lightfoot told the network.
Update 5:12 p.m. ET April 19: The jury in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial began deliberations just after 5 p.m. ET.
Update 5:05 p.m. ET April 19: Judge Peter Cahill outlined four key requirements of the jury before sequestering them for deliberations.
“One, take the time you need to reflect carefully and thoughtfully about the evidence,” he said.
“Two, think about why you are making the decision you’re making, and examine it for bias, and reconsider your first impressions of the people and the evidence in this case and if the people involved in this case were from different backgrounds – for example, richer or poorer, more less educated, older or younger or of a different gender, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation. Would you still view (the) evidence the same way?” Cahill told the jury.
“Three, listen to one another. You must carefully evaluate the evidence and … resist any urge to reach a verdict imposed by bias for or against any party or witness. Each of you has different backgrounds, and we will be feeling this case in light of your own insights, assumptions and biases. Listening to different perspectives may help you to better identify the possible effects (of) these hidden biases,” he said.
“Four, resist jumping to conclusions based on personal likes or dislikes, generalizations, gut feelings, prejudices, sympathies, stereotypes or unconscious biases,” Cahill said, before reminding jurors that “your verdict must be unanimous.”
“The law demands that you make a fair decision based solely on the evidence, your individual evaluation of that evidence, your reason and common sense and these instructions,” he told the jury.
Update 4:54 p.m. ET April 19: Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell used dramatic imagery to close his rebuttal of Derek Chauvin’s defense, in which attorneys argued that George Floyd died because of, among other health issues, an enlarged heart.
“You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big,” Blackwell argued. “And now, having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth, and the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
Update 4:46 p.m. ET April 19: In his rebuttal, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell called Chauvin’s actions so obviously wrong that a child could understand it, an apparent allusion to the testimony from a 9-year-old witness to Floyd’s death.
Update 4:40 p.m. ET April 19: Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell launched the state’s rebuttal argument in Derek Chauvin’s murder case, asking jurors to “believe your eyes, ladies and gentlemen.”
“It was a homicide,” Blackwell argued, challenging Nelson’s assertion that Chauvin’s actions were those of a “reasonable officer.”
“Reasonable is as reasonable does,” Blackwell said.
Update 4 p.m. ET April 19: Defense attorney Eric Nelson finished his closing statement on Monday afternoon in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who faces murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd, 46.
Update 3:45 p.m. ET April 19: The jury has returned from lunch break.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson is resuming closing statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
Update 3:20 p.m. ET April 19: Judge Peter Cahill has called a lunch break for jurors hearing closing arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
After the break, defense attorney Eric Nelson will continue his final statements in the trial.
Update 2:45 p.m. ET April 19: Defense attorney Eric Nelson acknowledged Monday that his client, Derek Chauvin, may have made “mistakes” on May 25, 2020, while detaining 46-year-old George Floyd.
Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges in connection to Floyd’s death after video of him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes went viral last year.
“You have to take into account that officers are human beings capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations,” he said.
He highlighted that jurors are tasked with determining whether Chauvin’s use of force was authorized.
“Did he purposefully apply unlawful force to another person?” he asked during his closing argument. “Did he intentionally perform an act that was imminently dangerous?”
Update 1:30 p.m. ET April 19: Derek Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said his client saw officers struggling with George Floyd when he responded in May 2020 to a call about a possibly counterfeit $20 bill that had been used at a Minneapolis convenience store.
He highlighted what’s known as the “reasonable officer standard,” telling jurors that they had to look at how a reasonable officer would have responded to the situation. He pointed to Floyd’s struggle as officers tried to get him into a police car.
“A reasonable police officer would understand this situation,” Nelson said. “That Mr. Floyd was able to overcome the efforts of three police officers while handcuffed.”
Update 12:40 p.m. ET April 19: Defense attorney Eric Nelson opened closing statements Monday in the trial of Derek Chauvin by thanking jurors for their service.
Nelson will present his closing argument before prosecutors get the opportunity to rebut his statement. The jury will then get the case. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said the panel will be sequestered for their deliberations.
Update 12:15 p.m. ET April 19: The prosecution has ended closing arguments in the case against Derek Chauvin.
The former Minneapolis police officer faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, 46.
“This wasn’t policing, this was murder,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said in court Monday. “The defendant is guilty of all three counts. All of them. And there’s no excuse.”
The court is on a 20-minute break before the defense is set to deliver closing arguments.
Update 11:50 a.m. ET April 19: Prosecutor Steve Schleicher told jurors that during Chauvin’s deadly encounter with Floyd in May 2020, he “knew better, he just didn’t do better.”
“He didn’t follow training — those hundreds of hours of training that he had,” Schleicher said Monday during closing arguments. “He did not follow the department’s use of force rules. He did not perform CPR.”
He reminded jurors that police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that Chauvin violated the police department’s use of force policy.
“What the defendant did was not policing,” Schleicher said. “What the defendant did was an assault.”
Update 11:20 a.m. ET April 19: Derek Chauvin “had to know” he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as the Black man cried out over and over that he couldn’t breathe and finally fell silent, prosecutor Steve Schleicher told jurors Monday as closing arguments began at Chauvin’s murder trial.
Floyd was “just a man, lying on the pavement, being pressed upon, desperately crying out. A grown man crying out for his mother. A human being,” Schleicher said as he sought to convince the racially diverse jury that Chauvin’s actions as he pinned Floyd to the pavement with his knee were reckless, unreasonable and criminal.
Update 10:40 a.m. ET April 19: Prosecutor Steve Schleicher has begun closing arguments for the state in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Schleicher opened by talking about Floyd and his family, mentioning his strong relationship with his family. He said that Floyd “was not a threat to anyone” on May 25, 2020, when officers approached the 46-year-old in connection to an allegedly counterfeit $20 used at a convenience store.
“He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. He wasn’t doing anything to anyone,” Schleicher said. “Facing George Floyd that day … no courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”
Update 10:30 a.m. ET April 19: Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read instructions to the jury ahead of closing arguments on Monday.
Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
Under Minnesota law, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years of imprisonment. Third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail and a fine of up to $40,0000 while second-degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000.
Original report: For prosecutors, Chauvin recklessly squeezed the life from Floyd as he and two other officers pinned him to the street for 9 minutes, 29 seconds outside a convenience store, despite Floyd’s repeated cries that he couldn’t breathe — actions they say warrant conviction not just for manslaughter but also on two murder counts.
For the defense, Floyd, who was Black, put himself at risk by swallowing fentanyl and methamphetamine, then resisted officers trying to arrest him — factors that compounded his vulnerability to a diseased heart and raise sufficient doubt that Chauvin, who is white, should be acquitted.
Both sides rested their cases on Thursday after about three weeks of testimony from witnesses, experts and Floyd’s loved ones. Chauvin invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Thursday and declined to testify.
Jurors began hearing testimony on March 29. Chauvin was arrested on murder and manslaughter charges in May 2020 after video surfaced on social media showing him pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck for minutes.
The Hennepin County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, determining that Floyd’s heart stopped as he was being restrained. A separate autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family also called his death a homicide but concluded that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.
Floyd’s death prompted global outrage and sparked a national reckoning over racism and police brutality.
Three other officers also face charges in Floyd’s death. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They are expected to face juries in August.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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