Dramatic Week Of Testimony In George Floyd Murder Trial

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

 

 

The opening week of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, facing murder and manslaughter charges for the death of George Floyd has featured dramatic and emotional testimony.

Among those taking the stand in the heavily-guarded downtown Minneapolis courtroom have been Floyd’s girlfriend, witnesses to his May 25, 2020 arrest and fellow police officers.

Chauvin, who is white, was seen on video kneeling for more than nine minutes on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was being detained for using a fake $20 bill in a nearby store.

Here are some of the emotional comments made by witnesses during the first week of the trial.

Darnella Frazier

Frazier, an 18-year-old African-American woman, was walking to the convenience store, Cup Foods, with her eight-year-old cousin when she saw Floyd being arrested.

She began recording and it was her smartphone video that went viral and sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the United States and around the world.

“It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain,” Frazier told the nine-woman, five-man jury hearing the case. “I knew it was wrong.

“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.

Christopher Martin

Martin, a 19-year-old cashier at Cup Foods, sold the pack of cigarettes that Floyd paid for with a fake $20 bill.

Martin said he knew at the time that the banknote was counterfeit. “If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided,” he said.

Floyd appeared to be “high” while in the store but “he seemed to be having an average Memorial Day, just living his life,” Martin said.

Martin said he felt “disbelief and guilt” after learning Floyd had died.

Courteney Ross

Ross, 45, was Floyd’s girlfriend of nearly three years.

She said they met at a Minneapolis homeless shelter where Floyd worked as a security guard.

She had gone there to visit the father of one of her sons, Ross said, and Floyd saw her looking sad in the lobby and asked if he could “pray” with her.

“It was so sweet,” she said. “I had lost a lot of faith in God.”

Ross acknowledged that both she and Floyd had struggled with opioid addiction.

“We both suffered from chronic pain,” she said. “Mine was in my neck and his was in his back.”

“We got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction, many times.”

Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman

Zimmerman, the longest-serving officer in the Minnesota Police Department, said Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd was “totally unnecessary” and violated department policies.

“Pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time, it’s just uncalled for,” he said.

Zimmerman said he had reviewed bystander video and police bodycam footage and he “saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger.”

“Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down, all the way,” he said. “They’re cuffed. How can they really hurt you?”

Donald Williams

Williams, 33, was among the crowd of bystanders urging the officers holding Floyd down to get off of him.

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

Williams, a mixed martial arts instructor, said Floyd was being held by Chauvin in a “blood choke” and he saw him lose consciousness.

Williams made an emergency 911 call after Floyd was taken away by ambulance.

“Murderers, bro… they just killed that man in front of the store,” he told the 911 operator.

Derek Smith

Smith, a paramedic, said Chauvin still had his knee on Floyd’s neck when he arrived but he believed Floyd was already dead.

He checked the carotid artery in Floyd’s neck to see if he had a pulse. “I did not feel one,” Smith said. “In lay terms, I thought he was dead.”

Smith said he and his partner attempted to revive Floyd in the ambulance but their efforts were unsuccessful.

“He’s a human being and I was trying to give him a second chance at life,” he said.

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 At Floyd Trial Feels ‘Disbelief And Guilt’ Over His Death

George Floyd, Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

 

 

A store clerk said Wednesday at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin that he regretted accepting the fake $20 bill from George Floyd that led to his arrest and eventual death.

“If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided,” Christopher Martin told the court on the third day of Chauvin’s trial.

Another witness on Wednesday broke down in sobs on the stand as he watched police bodycam footage of Floyd pleading for his mother during his arrest.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death, which was captured on video and sparked anti-racism protests around the world.

Chauvin, who is white, was seen on the video kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, for more than nine minutes.

Martin, 19, worked as a cashier at Cup Foods, the store where Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Martin said he knew right away that 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 took it anyways and I was planning to just put it on my tab,” he said, meaning that the amount would be taken out of his paycheck. “I offered to pay for it.”

Martin said he told the store manager about the fake bill, however, and he was told to go outside and tell Floyd to return to the store.

Martin and co-workers went outside to a car where Floyd was sitting with two other people but they refused to return to the store and the manager called the police.

After police arrived, Floyd was handcuffed and Chauvin held him down with his knee on his neck until he passed out and was taken away by an ambulance.

– ‘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 Floyd appeared to be “high” 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.”

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 because he is “just nosy.”

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

Prosecutors played police bodycam video of Floyd pleading that he is “claustrophobic” and calling for his mother as the officers attempted to place him in the car.

McMillian began sobbing as the video 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.”

The morning session of the trial was briefly interrupted when a member of the nine-woman, five-man jury appeared to fall ill.

Prosecutors are seeking to demonstrate to the jury that Chauvin had no justification for using a dangerous neck restraint on a compliant Floyd.

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 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.

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

George Floyd Murder Trial A ‘Referendum’ On American Justice – Family Lawyer

(FILES) 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. His face is displayed on murals all over the United States.
Chauvin’s trial opens Monday. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

 

The trial of the white police officer facing murder and manslaughter charges for the death of George Floyd is a referendum on American justice and equality, a Floyd family lawyer said Monday.

“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,” said Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer. “The whole world is watching.”

Opening arguments begin in Minneapolis on Monday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer accused of killing Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man.

US City To Pay George Floyd’s Family $27 Million

(FILES) 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 family of George Floyd, the Black man who died while being arrested by a white police officer in Minneapolis, has reached a $27 million “wrongful death” settlement with the Minnesota city, lawyers for the family announced Friday.

The settlement is the “largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in US history,” the lawyers said in a statement.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is currently on trial facing murder and manslaughter charges in connection with Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death, which was captured on video by bystanders and seen around the globe.

Three other police officers also face charges.

“George Floyd’s horrific death, witnessed by millions of people around the world, unleashed a deep longing and undeniable demand for justice and change,” said Ben Crump, a Floyd family lawyer.

“That the largest pre-trial settlement in a wrongful death case ever would be for the life of a Black man sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of color must end,” Crump said.

The settlement results from a federal lawsuit the Floyd family filed in July against the city of Minneapolis.

Floyd’s brother Rodney said the agreement is “a necessary step for all of us to begin to get some closure.”

“George’s legacy for those who loved him will always be his spirit of optimism that things can get better, and we hope this agreement does just that,” he said.

 

AFP

Jury Selection Begins In George Floyd Murder Trial

(FILES)  The 46-year-old died of asphyxiation beneath the knee of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, on May 25, 2020 in the US city of Minneapolis. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

 

Jury selection began on Tuesday in the high-profile trial of the white police officer accused of killing George Floyd, a Black man whose death was captured on video and sparked mass protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

Former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin is facing second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in connection with Floyd’s May 25 death.

Jury selection had been scheduled to begin on Monday but was delayed for a day as prosecutors sought to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against the 44-year-old Chauvin.

A court of appeals has not yet issued its ruling but Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill decided to go ahead with jury selection anyway.

 

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

 

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison while the lesser charge of third-degree murder carries 25 years.

The jury selection process is expected to take about three weeks with opening arguments in the trial expected to begin around March 29.

Chauvin was dismissed from the police force after he was captured on video by a bystander with his knee on the neck of a pleading, gasping Floyd for nearly nine minutes.

Chauvin, who has been free on bail, appeared in court on Tuesday wearing a grey suit and a black face mask at a desk surrounded by plexiglass as a Covid-19 precaution.

He occasionally jotted down notes on a yellow legal pad.

Racial wounds

Floyd’s death laid bare racial wounds in the United States and sparked months of sometimes violent protests against racism and police brutality, both in the US and abroad.

Lawyers for both sides face the difficult task of finding jurors who have not already made up their minds about the widely publicized case.

Three other police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest — Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — face lesser charges and will be tried separately.

All four officers were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Floyd’s arrest was prompted by accusations that he had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill in a nearby store.

Chauvin’s case is being watched as a potential marker of change in a country that recently elected its first Black vice president but has seen police officers historically escape punishment for abusive acts.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing rules mean seating will be limited at the trial, with the Floyd and Chauvin families given only one seat a day.

Despite intense global interest, only two reporters will be allowed in. The trial is being livestreamed.

Lawyers for Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the force, have argued that he was following police procedure and claimed the 46-year-old Floyd died of an overdose of the drug fentanyl.

“Mr. Chauvin acted according to MPD policy, his training and within his duties,” according to his lawyer, Eric Nelson. “He did exactly as he was trained to do.”

An autopsy did find traces of fentanyl in Floyd’s system but said the cause of death was “neck compression.”

A verdict is not expected until late April.

Trial To Begin For US Policeman Charged With George Floyd’s Death

(FILES) 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)

 

Nine months after George Floyd’s death laid bare the racial wounds in the United States, the white policeman charged with murdering the 46-year-old Black man is going on trial.

Jury selection begins in Minneapolis on Monday in the case against Derek Chauvin, who was filmed with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the handcuffed man struggled to breathe.

The shocking footage of Floyd’s May 25 death sparked a wave of “Black Lives Matter” protests against police brutality and racial injustice across the United States and in capitals around the world.

Chauvin’s case promises to be extraordinary in many respects: it will feature star attorneys, be held under tight security and broadcast live.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office brought in Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, to help with the prosecution.

Katyal described Chauvin’s trial as a “landmark criminal case, one of the most important in our nation’s history.”

Ashley Heiberger, a former police officer who now works as an advisor on police practices, said “the fact that a police officer has been charged criminally for an abusive use of force, that in and of itself is an outlier.”

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“It’s even rarer for them to be convicted,” Heiberger said. “There is a tendancy for jurors to want to give the police officer the benefit of every doubt.”

The circumstances surrounding 44-year-old Chauvin’s case, however, are so troubling that “to the best of my knowledge, no police officers or police organizations came out and defended his action,” he said.

Three other police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest — Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — face lesser charges and will be tried separately.

All four officers were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Floyd’s arrest was prompted by accusations that he had tried to pass off a $20 bill in a nearby store.

– ‘Exactly as he was trained to do’ –

Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the force, was released from prison on bail in the fall and is expected to plead not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges.

“Mr. Chauvin acted according to MPD policy, his training and within his duties as a licensed peace officer of the State of Minnesota,” according to his lawyer, Eric Nelson. “He did exactly as he was trained to do.”

According to Nelson, Floyd died of an overdose of fentanyl.

An autopsy did find traces of the drug in Floyd’s system but said the cause of death was “neck compression.”

Ben Crump, a lawyer representing the Floyd family, said Saturday he was expecting the defense team to attack Floyd’s character.

“They’re going to call George everything but a child of God, and try to make you forget what you see on that video,” he said.

It will take a unanimous verdict by the 12 members of the jury to put Chauvin behind bars for what could potentially be a long prison sentence.

Just a single juror not voting for conviction could result in a hung jury and give rise to another wave of anti-racism demonstrations.

The authorities have mobilized thousands of police officers and members of the National Guard to provide security during the trial.

The Hennepin County courthouse where it is taking place currently resembles an armed camp surrounded by concrete barriers and barbed wire fencing.

The trial is set to begin on Monday at 8 am CST (1400 GMT) with jury selection — a delicate process considering the widespread publicity surrounding the case.

Prospective jurors have been presented with a 15-page questionnaire.

“How favorable or unfavorable are you about Black Lives Matter?” is one of the questions.

“Have you ever watched video of George Floyd’s death?” is another. “If yes, how many times?”

Potential jurors are also being asked: “Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality?”

Prosecutors are expected to present testimony by a Black woman who claims that Chauvin used excessive force against her in 2017 and the teenager who filmed Floyd’s death is also expected to be called to the witness stand.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin on March 29 and a verdict is not expected until the end of April.

AFP

Black Lives Matter Proposed For Nobel Peace Prize

A Black Lives Matter protestor sits outside the US Capitol security perimeter during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. PHOTO: Allison dinner / AFP

 

Black Lives Matter, a movement which became a rallying cry after the killing by US police of an unarmed black man, has been proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize, a Norwegian MP said Saturday.

Founded in the United States in 2013, the movement received an impetus in May after George Floyd died. A white policeman had knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes ignoring Floyd’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

The incident fuelled protests in the United States that sped across the world.

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“This movement has become one of the strongest global movements for working with racial injustice,” Petter Eide, a socialist lawmaker who proposed BLM for the Peace Prize, told AFP.

“They have also been spread to many many countries, building up… awareness on the importance of fighting racial injustice,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people, including MPs and ministers from all countries, former Nobel laureates, and distinguished academics, can propose candidates for the various Nobel prizes.

The deadline ends on Sunday.

Several other names have been mooted for the Peace Prize including controversial Wikileaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange, former US President Donald Trump, media rights group RSF, and a trio of Belarusian opposition leaders led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

The Nobel prizes will be announced at the start of October. This year’s prize went to the World Food Programme, the UN food agency.

AFP

Ex-NBA Player Jackson Says Nets Star Irving Bought George Floyd’s Family A House

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 02, 2021 Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during warmups before the game against the Washington Wizards at Barclays Center on January 3, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Sarah Stier / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

 

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving bought a house for the family of George Floyd, the African American man killed by police in Minnesota last year, former NBA player Stephen Jackson has said.

Jackson, a friend of Floyd who was speaking on the “The Rematch” podcast with former NBA player Etan Thomas, said he had continued to try to support the family emotionally and practically and noted others who had done the same.

“Kyrie Irving bought them a house,” Jackson said. “Lil Wayne’s manager bought them a Mercedes-Benz. Barbra Streisand gave them stock in Disney.”

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

 

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old who was killed on May 25 when Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes as Floyd said he could not breathe.

The killing sparked protests and unrest around the United States.

While the NBA backed players’ desire to advocate for social justice causes, Irving indicated last year he thought resuming play that had been halted by the coronavirus pandemic would distract from the fight against systemic racism.

Irving, who was injured when the NBA resumed play in the Orlando quarantine bubble last year, has been active off the court on social and racial justice issues.

In July he committed $1.5 million to supplement the income of WNBA players who chose not to play the 2020 season in their bubble, whether because of coronavirus concerns or to devote themselves to social justice causes.

The 28-year-old returned to action this season, but has missed seven straight games for what the team described as “personal reasons” and because of an NBA-mandated quarantine after he was seen in an online video at a family gathering without a mask.

Policeman Charged In Death Of George Floyd Released On Bail

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 police officer charged with killing George Floyd, the African American whose death sparked a mass protest movement, was released from a Minnesota jail on Wednesday on $1 million bail.

Derek Chauvin, who was video recorded pressing his knee to handcuffed Floyd’s neck during an arrest in May until Floyd went limp, is charged with second and third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office posted a notice of his release after more than four months in jail, after Chauvin was able to post the hefty bond.

The 44-year-old former Minneapolis police officer, who has since been sacked, is to face trial in March 2021 along with three other now ex-police officers over Floyd’s death, which triggered the largest US anti-racism movement since the 1960s.

The other three, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who either stood by or participated holding Floyd down when he was killed, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Floyd’s death on May 25 became a symbol of what many say is systemic racism and abuse of African Americans by police, and sparked protests across the country that continue under the banner of “Black Lives Matter.”

Prosecutors called the death, which came after Floyd was detained for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, “vicious, brutal, and dehumanizing.”

All four defendants say the decision to restrain Floyd was reasonably justified, and have also cited coroner evidence that drugs found in his system may have been the primary cause of death.

The officers were all fired one day after Floyd’s death, reflecting the growing seriousness with which US cities are beginning to take police abuse allegations.

 

 

-AFP