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Derek Chauvin trial on George Floyd death updates: what happened in 1st session?

The first day of Derek Chauvin’s trial over the murder of George Floyd saw the attorneys for the prosecution and defense make their opening statements.

Derek Chauvin trial on George Floyd death updates: what happened in 1st session?

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, is accused of murder in the death of George Floyd, and attorneys for the prosecution and defense made their opening statements on Monday in the trial.

Derek Chauvin trial on George Floyd murder: day one

Here are some quotes from prosecutor Jerry Blackwell of the Minnesota attorney general's office and from Eric Nelson, Chauvin's lead defense attorney, as they laid out their cases to jurors in a Minneapolis courtroom.

Jerry Blackwell: prosecutor

"You will learn that on May 25 of 2020 Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when (he) used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd, that 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.”

"The most important numbers you will hear in this trial are nine-two-nine. What happened in those nine minutes and 29 seconds when Mr. Derek Chauvin was applying this excessive force to the body of Mr. George Floyd.”

"You will see that he does not let up and he does not get up. Even when Mr. Floyd does not even have a pulse, it continues on."

"The evidence is going to show you that there was no cause in the first place to use lethal force against a man who was defenseless, who was handcuffed, who was not resisting."

Eric Nelson: defense attorney

"The evidence will show that when confronted by police, Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth in an effort to conceal them from the police."

You will see that three Minneapolis police officers could not overcome the strength of Mr. Floyd. Mr. Chauvin stands five foot, nine (inches) (1.75 m) and 140 pounds (64 kg). Mr. Floyd is six (feet) three (inches) (1.9 m) and weighs 233 pounds (106 kg)."

“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do over the course of his 19-year career. The use of force is not attractive but it is a necessary component of policing.”

"What was Mr. Floyd’s actual cause of death? The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac-arrhythmias that occurred as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body, all of which acted to further compromise an already compromised heart."

Derek Chauvin trial on George Floyd murder: day two

A professional mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed the deadly arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May is due to return to the stand on Tuesday for the second day of testimony in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

Donald Williams can be heard on a bystander's cellphone screaming at Chauvin, who kept his knee on Floyd's neck for about nine minutes during the arrest on May 25, 2020, shortly after Floyd was accused of passing a fake $20 bill.

Williams calls Chauvin a "bum" in the video, accuses the white police officer of "enjoying" his restraining of Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man, and told jurors on Monday he believed that Chauvin was using his knee in a "blood choke" on Floyd, a wrestling move to knock an opponent unconscious.

Witness Donald Williams points out Derek Chauvin during the trial.
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Witness Donald Williams points out Derek Chauvin during the trial.JANE ROSENBERGREUTERS

The video, which prosecutors say shows excessive force, sparked outrage and daily demonstrations in the United States and around the world protesting police brutality against Black people. The trial is being watched as a litmus test for the US justice system.

Legal counter from Team Chauvin

Chauvin's lawyers are expected to counter that Williams has no knowledge of police maneuvers.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, which carries up to 40 years in prison, as well as third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He and the three other officers on the scene were fired the day after Floyd's death.

In opening arguments on Monday, a prosecutor said Chauvin betrayed his badge "when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of George Floyd."

Chauvin's lawyers argued he was simply following training from his 19 years on the force and that the main cause of Floyd's death, which the county examiner ruled a homicide caused by police restraints, was a drug overdose.

Limited courtroom access

With access to the courtroom limited by the coronavirus pandemic, Hennepin County District Judge has allowed a live video of proceedings to be broadcast to the public, something normally prohibited in Minnesota courts.

However, Cahill agreed to a request by prosecutors not to show four eyewitnesses on video: two of whom were under 18 when the saw Floyd die, and two of whom are still minors.

One of those witnesses is Darnella Frazier, 18, who recorded the most widely seen cellphone video of Floyd's death.

Cahill said he realized that spectators would likely be able to deduce the identities of the witnesses.

"This is more to give them comfort testifying as witnesses in what is a very high-profile trial," he said.