George Floyd: Derek Chauvin trial begins as family demands justice
30 March, 2021, 06:55
On May 25, 2020, Scurry directed police to the Cup Foods convenience store in Minneapolis in response to a call about a suspect using a counterfeit bill.
"He put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath, no ladies and gentlemen, until the very life, was squeezed out of him", Mr Blackwell said.
In the video, Floyd moans and gasps for breath while bystanders urge Chauvin to let up.
Mr Floyd said "I can't breathe" 27 times, Mr Blackwell said, before being loaded, unconscious, on a stretcher by medics and taken to hospital, where he was declared dead.
Unintentional second degree murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison in Minnesota, with up to 25 years for third degree murder, but sentencing guidelines suggest that Chauvin would face 12 and a half years in prison if convicted on either charge.
Chauvin lawyer Eric Nelson countered: "Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career". "I don't know if they needed to or not", she said in audio of the call played to the court.
The death of Mr Floyd and the circulation of the video worldwide sparked a wave of protests in the U.S. and beyond demanding justice and highlighting the unequal treatment of black people by the police in America.
The trial was broadcast live on television, and the White House said President Joe Biden was paying attention.
The key questions at trial will be whether Chauvin caused Floyd's death and whether his actions were reasonable.
A statement issued by the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) following this incident said, "There is no known police technique that any of our members, with literally thousands of years of law enforcement experience, are aware of that justifies Officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee on the throat of Mr. Floyd and ignoring the distress calls from him indicating that he could not breathe".
"The goal today is equal justice for the United States of America", Crump said.
Mr Chauvin was seated at the defense table, dressed in a gray suit with a blue shirt and blue tie.
Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, said before the service began that he had faith that prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney general's office would see Chauvin convicted.
Both Blackwell and Nelson sought to play down the broader ramifications of the trial.
According to Blackwell, a number of bystanders at the scene "called the police on the police". "This case is about Mr. Derek Chauvin", he told the jury. "There is no political or social cause in this courtroom", he said. The seat for a Chauvin family member was empty, as it was all through more than two weeks of jury selection.
The first witness called by the prosecutors was Jena Scurry, a Minneapolis 911 emergency dispatcher who sent police to the Cup Foods store and watched live surveillance video footage showing a police auto rock back and forth outside the store as four officers struggled to get Floyd to stay in the back seat.
Donald Williams, a 33-year-old martial arts instructor who was on the scene, said he told Chauvin at the time that his knee on Floyd's neck was the equivalent of a unsafe "blood choke" used in wrestling and fighting. "Everything hurts", Mr Floyd says.
Mr Chauvin was recorded by passers-by in the city of Minneapolis kneeling on the neck of Mr Floyd, who was black, for more than nine minutes.
A jury was assembled at the Hennepin County Court on Monday, as the opening of the trial of former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin got underway. "The facts are simple". The lawyer, who showed the jury the video of Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd's neck, alleged that the officer pointed Mace self-defense spray at her.
After jury instructions, prosecutors will begin with their opening statement, providing a road map of their case and telling jurors what they can expect to see at trial, said Mike Brandt, a local defence attorney who is watching the case closely.
Three other officers are also charged of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
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