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.

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‘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.

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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

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.

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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

George Floyd: I Don’t Feel ‘100% Safe’ In US – Ex-Manchester City Star Nedum

Protesters demonstrate on June 1, 2020 in Amsterdam, to protest against the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the USA. Sem VAN DER WAL / AFP / ANP
Protesters demonstrate on June 1, 2020 in Amsterdam, to protest against the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the USA. Sem VAN DER WAL / AFP / ANP

 

Former Manchester City defender, Nedum Onuoha has said he is not fully safe in the US due to racism.

Onuoha who plays for Real Salt Lake in the Major League Soccer (MLS) made the comment following the killing of a black man, George Floyd by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin in the US.

The white police officer had pinned George down to the ground before his death, leading to widespread protests in many cities.

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And Onuoha has noted while speaking with BBC Radio 5 Live, that “I am always very wary of how I behave and how it could be viewed by people who have power.”

He admitted that he has fear and distrust towards the police and is something he does not like to say.

The defender has also backed protesters who flooded the streets, saying “these issues have been around for decades.”

According to him, people have always made attempts to address issues like this but it has been pushed away for long.

He expressed optimism, however, that “the change will come” as he added that the protests are an opportunity to address issues that have been swept aside for years