US Former Police Officer To Be Sentenced For George Floyd Murder

File photo: George Floyd, Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

 

Former policeman Derek Chauvin could be ordered behind bars for 30 years on Friday when he is sentenced for the murder of African American George Floyd, a killing that sparked America’s biggest demonstrations for racial justice in decades.

Minnesota law provides for a minimum sentence of 12.5 years for the white, 45-year-old killer, who has been jailed since being convicted on three counts of murder and manslaughter two months ago.

But Judge Peter Cahill, who will hand down the sentence at 1:30 pm (1830 GMT) in a Minneapolis court, identified aggravating circumstances that could signal a much heavier punishment.

He said Chauvin had “abused his position of trust and authority,” treated Floyd with “particular cruelty” in front of minors and “committed the crime as a group with the active participation of at least three other” officers.

Chauvin and three colleagues arrested Floyd, 46, in May last year on suspicion of having passed a fake $20 bill in a store in Minneapolis, a northern city of around 420,000. They handcuffed him and pinned him to the ground in the middle of the street.

Chauvin then knelt on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, indifferent to the dying man’s groans and to the pleas of distraught passers-by.

The scene, filmed and uploaded by a young woman, quickly went viral. After weeks of home confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people poured onto streets across the country and also overseas, to demand an end to racism and police brutality.

It took weeks for the mass demonstrations to taper off, but the debate around the pressing social issues remains vivid in the United States, where President Joe Biden has been slow to come up with the police reforms he promised during his campaign.

Late Thursday, Republican and Democratic lawmakers announced that after weeks of negotiations they had come up with “an agreement on a framework addressing the major issues for bipartisan police reform.”

“Over the next few weeks we look forward to continuing our work toward getting a finalized proposal across the finish line,” the members of Congress said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Canada’s Trudeau Survives Vote Of No Confidence

‘Good faith’

 

In this file photo taken on June 19, 2020 protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge over the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police during a Juneteenth rally in New York.  Chauvin’s trial opens Monday. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

Chauvin’s trial was closely followed by millions across the country.

The former police officer, who was present for the full six weeks of his trial, did not testify. His lawyer said he had followed police procedures in force at the time and that Floyd’s death was due to health problems exacerbated by drug use.

The jurors were not convinced and took less than 10 hours to convict. Their decision was greeted with a huge sigh of relief across the country — many had feared an acquittal would lead to worse unrest, while others feared that once again a white police officer would get away with what they saw as murder.

Ahead of the sentencing, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson pleaded that his client made “an error in good faith” and requested a reduced sentence to time already served, which would allow his client to be released immediately.

But the prosecution cited Chauvin’s “particularly cruel” conduct and called for the maximum of 30 years.

Whatever the decision, the defense will appeal the verdict, Nelson has said, citing doubts over the impartiality of some jurors.

Neither will the case end with Chauvin: his three former colleagues will face trial in March 2022 on charges of complicity in homicide.

In parallel, the four men also face federal charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights. No date has yet been set for that trial.

AFP

George Floyd Family Calls For Police Reform On Anniversary Of Murder

In this file photo taken on June 19, 2020 protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge over the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police during a Juneteenth rally in New York.  Chauvin’s trial opens Monday. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

The family of George Floyd appealed Tuesday for sweeping police reform on the anniversary of the African American man’s murder by a white officer, as they met President Joe Biden at the White House.

The president and Kamala Harris, America’s first female and first Black vice president, hosted several of Floyd’s relatives in the Oval Office after the family spoke to top lawmakers hoping for progress on reform.

“The Floyd family has shown extraordinary courage,” Biden said after their meeting — declaring himself “hopeful” that a deal could be struck after the Memorial Day holiday this weekend.

The legislation being considered to increase police accountability would be named after Floyd, who suffocated after being pinned down under the knee of Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.

“If you can make federal laws to protect the bird, the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color,” Philonise Floyd, George’s younger brother, said as he emerged from the private meeting, which lasted over an hour.

Another brother, Terrence Floyd, said as he left the White House that he was encouraged by the “productive conversation” in which Biden and Harris were eager to “actually give an ear to our concerns.”

Floyd’s mother, siblings and his daughter Gianna, along with family lawyers, had earlier gathered at the US Capitol with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of Congress.

READ ALSO: Ex-Police Officer Convicted Of Floyd’s Murder Seeks New Trial

While the adults discussed their hopes for police reform, it was seven-year-old Gianna — hugging her mother Roxie Washington — who eloquently addressed the legacy of her late father, saying he would “change the world.”

“He did,” Biden said after meeting the family nearly a year after their first encounter ahead of Floyd’s funeral.

“I got a chance to spend a lot of time with Gianna and the family,” he said. “They’ve been wonderful.”

The family later visited Black Lives Matter Plaza close to the White House, which became a focal point for demonstrations in the weeks after Floyd’s death.

“What’s going on in America you can clearly see this right now, it’s two justice systems — so we need to get together as one,” said Philonise Floyd. “Whatever I have to do to get this law passed, I will do, we want freedom, be able to walk in peace.”

Culture of impunity
Floyd’s death sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality across a country already crackling with tension from the election battle between Biden and Donald Trump.

Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as he passed out and died, is to be sentenced in June for murder and manslaughter.

George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd speaks with other family members and lawyers outside the White House after meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC, on May 25, 2021. JIM WATSON / AFP
George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd speaks with other family members and lawyers outside the White House after meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC, on May 25, 2021. JIM WATSON / AFP

 

In a sign Biden wants to confront head on what he sees as systemic racism, the White House announced the president will travel to Oklahoma on June 1 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in which an estimated 300 Black men, women and children were killed.

In the wake of Chauvin’s conviction last month, Biden sought to build on political momentum by urging Congress to pass a far-reaching police reform bill in time for the anniversary.

However, the ambitious deadline comes with only the House having passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, while the Senate continues to wrangle over key details.

Despite missing Biden’s deadline, Representative Karen Bass, a co-author of the reform bill, reiterated her commitment to Democrats and Republicans negotiating a compromise.

“We will get this bill on President Biden’s desk,” she said at the meeting with the Floyd family. “We will work until we get the job done.”

The proposed law seeks to reform what critics say have become ever more violent and unaccountable police forces around the country.

Biden says a culture of impunity and underlying racism has made tragedies like Floyd’s death increasingly common, although opponents believe police operating in often heavily armed communities are being scapegoated.

As if to highlight the staggering number of US shootings, multiple gunshots rang out Tuesday near the site in Minneapolis where people were marking the anniversary of Floyd’s killing.

Shortly afterward a patient arrived at hospital suffering from a gunshot wound, police said.

Ban on chokeholds
The police reform bill would ban potentially fatal restraint techniques used on suspects, like chokeholds, and end so-called “no-knock warrants” that authorize police to burst into a suspect’s house unannounced.

The most far-reaching of the measures would be to end legal protections that block civil lawsuits against police accused of misconduct.

“My video didn’t save George Floyd, but it put his murderer away and off the streets,” Darnella Frazier, whose took crucial phone footage evidence of Floyd’s death, said Tuesday in a Facebook post.

“I knew that he was another black man in danger with no power.”

AFP

Chauvin Chooses Not To Testify At George Floyd Murder Trial

These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP
These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP

 

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin said Thursday that he will not testify at his murder trial for the death of George Floyd and will invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Chauvin told Judge Peter Cahill that he would exercise his Fifth Amendment right and would not take the witness stand.

“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin said.

“Is this your decision not to testify?” the judge asked the 45-year-old former police officer, who was wearing a grey suit with a dark blue shirt and blue tie.

“It is your honor,” Chauvin said.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, asked him if he understood that “neither the state nor the court can comment on your silence as a sign or an indication of your guilt.”

Chauvin said he understood.

Nelson said he expected to rest the defense case on Thursday and the prosecution said they would call a final rebuttal witness.

Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a video that went viral kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, for more than nine minutes during his May 25, 2020 arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.

A bystander video of the arrest went viral and sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

– ‘Low level of oxygen’ –
Chauvin’s defense claims Floyd’s death was due to underlying health conditions and consumption of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Medical experts called by the prosecution said Floyd’s death was caused by a “low level of oxygen” from the neck restraint and not due to drugs or pre-existing conditions.

Several police officers have testified that excessive force was used on Floyd and Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin had violated the department’s training policies and its “values.”

File photo: Police dressed in tactical gear attempt to disperse crowds gathered to protest the death of George Floyd outside the 3rd Precinct Police Station on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP

 

Nelson asked the judge on Monday to sequester the jury after protests erupted in Minneapolis following the police killing of a 20-year-old Black man.

The judge denied the request and said the jury would be sequestered after closing arguments, which are expected on Monday.

Kim Potter, the police officer who shot dead Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser, was arrested Wednesday on manslaughter charges.

Minneapolis has been roiled by nightly violent protests after Potter’s shooting of Wright in his car on Sunday.

Racial tensions were already high in the midwestern US city over the Chauvin trial.

Potter, a 26-year police veteran who resigned after Wright’s death, faces a maximum of 10 years in jail if convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

She is due to appear in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing after being released on $100,000 bail.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

A conviction on any of the counts against Chauvin will require the nine-woman, five-man jury to return a unanimous verdict.

A 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin was fired from the force after Floyd’s death.

Three other former police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest are to be tried separately later this year.

AFP

Judge Denies Motion To Acquit Officer In Floyd’s Death

File photo: George Floyd, Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

 

 

The Minnesota judge presiding over the trial of Derek Chauvin denied a defense motion on Wednesday to acquit the former police officer facing murder and manslaughter charges for the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a video taken by a bystander kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man complained repeatedly that he “can’t breathe.”

Defense attorney Eric Nelson said prosecutors had failed to prove their case against the 45-year-old Chauvin beyond a reasonable doubt and he should be acquitted.

The motion is a standard request in criminal trials at the end of the presentation of the prosecution case and it was rejected by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill.

In this file photo taken on June 19, 2020 protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge over the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police during a Juneteenth rally in New York. Chauvin’s trial opens Monday. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

“The motion for judgment of acquittal is denied,” Cahill said.

The video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 arrest touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

Prosecutors called nearly 40 witnesses during the first two weeks of the high-profile trial including medical experts, current and former police officers and bystanders to the arrest.

READ ALSO: Merkel Approves ‘Short National Lockdown’ To Curb Virus

Judge Cahill on Wednesday also said he would allow a potential defense witness to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

Morries Hall was with Floyd on the day of his arrest and his attorney, Adrienne Cousins, told the judge that Hall could “not answer any questions without incriminating himself.”

“I’m fearful of criminal charges going forward,” Hall told the court.

Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, has suggested that Hall gave illegal drugs to Floyd and that his death was due to his consumption of fentanyl and methamphetamine and underlying health conditions.

Medical experts called by the prosecution said Floyd’s death was caused by a “low level of oxygen” from the neck restraint and not due to drugs or pre-existing conditions.

Nelson asked the judge on Monday to sequester the jury after protests erupted in Minneapolis following the police killing of a 20-year-old Black man.

The judge denied the request and said the jury would be sequestered after closing arguments, which are expected on Monday.

A conviction on any of the counts against Chauvin will require the nine-woman, five-man jury to return a unanimous verdict.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

A 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin was fired from the force after Floyd’s death.

Three other former police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest are to be tried separately later this year.

AFP

George Floyd Died From ‘Low-Level Of Oxygen’ – Doctor

File photo: George Floyd, Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. AFP

 

 

A respiratory doctor testified Thursday that George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen and that police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee was on his neck almost all the time he was facedown in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist, told the jury at Chauvin’s murder and manslaughter trial that he had watched videos of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 arrest “hundreds of times.”

“Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen,” Tobin told the nine-woman, five-man jury hearing the high-profile case in a heavily guarded Minneapolis courtroom.

“This caused damage to his brain,” he said, and arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat — which “caused his heart to stop.”

The 45-year-old Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a video taken by a bystander kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old African-American man gasped and complained repeatedly that he “can’t breathe.”

The video of Floyd’s arrest touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

Tobin said Floyd’s breathing weakened because he was “squeezed” face down on the street, handcuffed and with Chauvin and other police officers on his neck and back.

READ ALSO: Merkel Approves ‘Short National Lockdown’ To Curb Virus

Tobin said that as a doctor in an intensive care unit in a busy Chicago hospital he is “extremely familiar with seeing people die, unfortunately.”

He provided commentary as a graphic video of what he said was the moment of Floyd’s death was shown to an attentive jury.

 

In this file photo taken on June 19, 2020 protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge over the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police during a Juneteenth rally in New York.  Chauvin’s trial opens Monday. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

“You can see his eyes, he’s conscious, and then you see that he isn’t,” he said. “One second he’s alive and one second he is no longer.

“That’s the moment the life goes out of his body.”

– Drugs, health conditions not a factor –
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s defense attorney, has suggested that Chauvin’s body weight was actually on Floyd’s shoulder or back at times and not on his neck.

Tobin disagreed and said that even after Floyd had stopped breathing, Chauvin continued to pin him down on the street.

“Officer Chauvin’s left knee is virtually on the neck for the vast majority of the time,” he said. “More than 90 percent of the time in my calculations.”

Tobin noted that at one point in the video Chauvin’s left boot was off the ground meaning that half of the officer’s body weight was on Floyd’s neck.

“The knee remains on the neck for another three minutes and 27 seconds after he takes his last breath,” he said.

“The knee remains on the neck for another two minutes and 44 seconds after the officers have found themselves there’s no pulse.”

The Irish-born Tobin is testifying as an expert witness for the prosecution.

He said he has testified previously at medical malpractice trials but this is his first criminal trial and he is not being paid.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove Floyd’s death was due to asphyxiation, while Chauvin’s defense claims it was due to illegal drugs and underlying health conditions.

Tobin dismissed defense claims that pre-existing medical conditions may have contributed to Floyd’s death and the impact of the illegal drugs methamphetamine and fentanyl that he may have ingested.

 

In this file photo taken on March 10, 2021, a man walks near the makeshift memorial of George Floyd before the third day of jury selection begins in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin who is accused of killing Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

 

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” he said.

As for drugs, Tobin said fentanyl tends to depress breathing but Floyd’s respiratory rate appeared to normal before he passed out and died.

Several top Minneapolis police officers have testified that excessive force was used on Floyd, who was being arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill in a store.

Police chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin violated the department’s training policies and its “values.”

Police officers are rarely convicted in the United States when charges are brought and a conviction on any of the counts against Chauvin will require the jury to return a unanimous verdict.

Chauvin, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

A 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin was fired from the force after Floyd’s death.

Three other former police officers involved in the arrest are to be tried separately later this year.

AFP

Graphic Bodycam Footage Played At Floyd Murder Trial

In this file photo taken on June 19, 2020 protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge over the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police during a Juneteenth rally in New York. – His name is chanted by demonstrators around the globe. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

Chilling police body camera footage was shown to the jury on Wednesday at the trial of the white policeman accused of killing George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man whose death touched off anti-racism protests around the world.

The video taken by the bodycams of the four police officers involved in Floyd’s May 25, 2020 arrest was introduced by prosecutors on the third day of the trial of ex-Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, 45, who was captured on bystander video kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for more than nine minutes, is charged with murder and manslaughter.

The bodycam videos include the moment Floyd was arrested at gunpoint for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill and his desperate pleas that he “can’t breathe” as he is pinned facedown in the street by officers.

The other three former police officers involved in the arrest — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng — are to be tried separately later this year.

Lane’s bodycam video shows Floyd saying “Please don’t shoot me” as he is pulled out of his car outside the store where he paid for a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 banknote.

File photo: George Floyd, Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

 

Floyd is handcuffed and taken to a squad car where he becomes increasingly distressed and struggles with the officers who are trying to put him in the back of the vehicle.

“I’m claustrophobic, man,” Floyd says repeatedly. “Why you doing me like this? Don’t do me like this man.”

After Floyd falls out of the car into the street, three officers pin him down with Chauvin kneeling on his neck.

Chauvin’s body camera was knocked off in the struggle and falls under the car but the cameras of the other officers continued to operate.

Floyd says repeatedly that he can’t breathe. “Mama, I love you,” he says. “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts.”

At one point, one of the officers says “I think he’s passed out” and asks if they should “roll him on his side.”

The bodycam footage continues until an ambulance arrives and takes an unconscious Floyd to hospital, where he was declared dead.

– ‘Disbelief and guilt’ –
Besides the bodycam video, court proceedings on Wednesday featured the emotional testimony of a store clerk who said he regretted accepting the fake $20 bill from Floyd.

“If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided,” said Christopher Martin, a cashier at Cup Foods.

Martin, 19, said he knew right away the banknote was fake but took it anyway.

“I thought George didn’t really know that it was a fake bill,” Martin said. “I thought I’d be doing him a favor.”

“I was planning to just put it on my tab,” he said, meaning the amount would be taken out of his paycheck. “I offered to pay for it.”

READ ALSO: Czech Republic’s ‘Wealthiest Man’ Dies In Alaska Helicopter Crash

Martin said he told the store manager about the fake bill, however, and the manager eventually called the police.

Martin said Floyd appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while he was in the store but was “very friendly, approachable, talkative.”

“He seemed to be having an average Memorial Day, just living his life,” Martin said. “He did seem high.”

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s defense attorney, claimed in opening arguments that Floyd’s death was due to drugs and underlying medical conditions and not asphyxiation.

Martin said he left the store again when he heard “yelling and screaming” outside.

“I saw (Chauvin) with his knee on George’s neck on the ground,” he said. “George was motionless, limp.”

Asked by prosecutor Matthew Frank what he felt at the time, Martin became visibly upset and said “disbelief and guilt.”

Also testifying on Wednesday was Charles McMillian, 61, who said he was driving by that day and stopped to see what was going on.

McMillian, the first bystander on the scene, can be heard on video at one point telling the struggling Floyd “you can’t win” and to get into the back of the police squad car.

McMillian began sobbing as police bodycam video of Floyd’s arrest was played, removing his glasses and wiping his eyes with tissues until Judge Peter Cahill called a brief recess.

“I felt helpless,” McMillian said.

McMillian also confronted Chauvin after the incident. Asked by a prosecutor why he did so, McMillian said: “Because what I watched was wrong.”

Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the police force, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

His trial is expected to last about a month.

AFP

Witness To George Floyd Death Testifies At Trial, Regrets ‘Not Doing More’

These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP
These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP

 

The teenager who took the viral video of George Floyd’s death told the trial on Tuesday of the white police officer charged with killing the 46-year-old Black man that she regrets not being able to save his life.

Darnella Frazier, 18, was among the witnesses who provided emotional testimony on Tuesday at the high-profile trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder and manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death, which was captured on video by Frazier and seen by millions, sparking anti-racism protests around the globe.

In the stomach-churning video, Chauvin is seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed Floyd complains that he can’t breathe and eventually falls unconscious.

“I have a Black father. I have a Black brother,” Frazier told the court with tears running down her face. “That could have been one of them.

“It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” she said.

At the same time, “it’s not what I should have done it’s what he should have done,” Frazier added in a reference to Chauvin, who was seated at the defense table.

Frazier described Floyd as “scared” and “terrified” and “begging for his life.”

“It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain,” she said. “I knew it was wrong. We all knew it was wrong.”

‘Witnessed a murder’

Another witness on Tuesday said he made an emergency 911 call right after watching Floyd’s death to report a “murder.”

Donald Williams, 33, recounted how he pleaded with officers on the scene to render assistance to Floyd, who was being arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

Williams, a mixed martial arts instructor, said Floyd was already in “danger” when he arrived on the scene.

“You could see that he was trying to gasp for air, trying to breathe,” he said. “You could see his eyes slowly rolling back in his head.”

Williams said Floyd was being held by Chauvin in a “blood choke” used in wrestling or martial arts and he saw him lose consciousness.

After an unconscious Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, Williams said he made the 911 call.

“I believed I witnessed a murder,” Williams told the court. “I didn’t know what else to do.”

Portions of his 911 call were played in the courtroom.

“He just went and killed this guy,” Williams said in the call. “Murderers, bro… they just killed that man in front of the store.”

Asked who he was referring to, Williams said “the officer sitting over there” and pointed to Chauvin.

“Did you see Mr. Floyd fighting back?” prosecutor Matthew Frank asked Williams.

“No,” Williams said.

‘Trained to do’

Under questioning from Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, Williams acknowledged that he called Chauvin and the officers names at the scene.

“You called him a tough guy,” Nelson said. “You called him a ‘bum’ 13 times.”

“They were not listening to anything I was telling them,” Williams said. “I had to speak out for Floyd.”

The video of Floyd’s death was played for the nine-woman, five-man jury on Monday and is expected to take center stage at Chauvin’s trial.

Prosecutors are seeking to demonstrate that Chauvin had no justification for using a dangerous hold on Floyd that led to his death.

Chauvin’s attorney countered on Monday that Floyd was on drugs and his death was caused by the drugs and a medical condition rather than asphyxiation.

“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do,” Nelson said.

Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the police force, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

The trial is drawing worldwide attention and the White House said Monday that President Joe Biden will be among those “watching closely.”

Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, called it a “landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all.”

The trial is expected to last about a month.

Three other former police officers involved in the arrest — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng — are to be tried separately later this year.

 

AFP

Opening Statements Beginning In George Floyd’s Murder Trial

In this file photo taken on June 19, 2020 protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge over the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police during a Juneteenth rally in New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

The George Floyd murder trial is a referendum on American justice, the family lawyer said Monday ahead of opening statements in the case against the white police officer accused of killing the 46-year-old Black man.

“The whole world is watching,” said Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer and attorney for the Floyd family.

“Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all,” Crump said outside the Minneapolis courtroom where the trial is to take place.

Crump and members of the Floyd family then took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death sparked protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and around the world.

Chauvin, 44, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, faces murder and manslaughter charges for his role in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin, who was fired from the police along with three other officers, could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

Floyd’s cause of death is expected to be the central issue in the case, and a key piece of evidence is likely to be the bystander-filmed video that went viral.

George Floyd, Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

 

Crump said Chauvin’s defense attorney is “going to try to assassinate the character of George Floyd.”

“But this is the trial of Derek Chauvin, Let’s look at his record,” he said. “The facts are simple. What killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force.”

Floyd died while Chauvin was arresting him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

While lying with his face in the street, the handcuffed Floyd complained that he cannot breathe and calls out for his mother.

READ ALSO: Czech Republic’s ‘Wealthiest Man’ Dies In Alaska Helicopter Crash

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, is expected to argue that the officer was following police procedure and claim that Floyd’s death was due to an overdose of the drug fentanyl and underlying health conditions.

Chauvin’s trial is being held in a heavily guarded Minneapolis courtroom. Proceedings are expected to last about a month.

– ‘Extreme amounts of publicity’ –
Fifteen jurors have been selected, though Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill is expected to drop one juror on Monday and proceed with 12 and two alternates.

The panel seated after two weeks of jury selection is racially mixed: six white women, three Black men, three white men, two mixed-race women and one Black woman.

Police officers are rarely convicted in the United States when charges are brought against them.

A conviction on any of the charges — second-degree murder, third-degree murder or manslaughter — will require the jury to return a unanimous verdict.

The public has been banned from attending the trial because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is being livestreamed.

The identities of the jurors will not be revealed until after the trial but some details are known.

Community activists light candles at a memorial near the site where George Floyd died at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on March 28, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP

 

They range in age from their 20s to their 60s and include a chemist, a social worker, an accountant and a nurse. Two are immigrants to the United States.

One is a grandmother, one is recently married and one is a single mother of two teenage boys.

The jury selection process was complicated by the intensive pre-trial publicity surrounding the case and all but one of the jurors said they had seen at least some of the arrest video.

Several potential jurors were excused after telling the judge they could not be fair or impartial or presume Chauvin to be innocent as the law requires them to do.

Others expressed concern for their safety.

Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, asked to have the trial delayed and moved out of Minneapolis because of the March 12 announcement that the city had reached a $27 million “wrongful death” settlement with the Floyd family.

Judge Cahill rejected the demand, saying: “I don’t think that there’s any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity on this case.”

Three other former police officers — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng — also face charges in connection with Floyd’s death.

They are to be tried separately later in the year.

AFP