George Floyd verdict and closing arguments: what has defense and prosecution stated?
After 13 days of emotional testimony in Minneapolis at the jury has begun deliberations to decide whether Derek Chauvin is guilty of killing George Floyd.
The attorneys for the prosecution and defense made their final case to the 12 jurors on Monday. Prosecutors called on them to use common sense while the defense maintained that officers are human beings capable of making mistakes.
Minneapolis has prepared for the worst with businesses boarding up windows with officials, business owners and residents across the city afraid the city could see a repeat of the civil unrest that erupted after Floyd’s death last May when the verdict is announced. Former police officer Derek Chauvin is facing counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. Last Memorial Day, he held his knee on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
What did the prosecution say?
Prosecutors Steve Schleicher and Jerry Blackwell both asked the jury to use their eyes with Schleicher going first. "This case is exactly what you thought when you first saw it — when you first saw the video," Schleicher said. "It's exactly that. It's exactly what you saw with your eyes. It's exactly what you knew. It's exactly what you felt in your gut. It's what you now know in your heart. This wasn't policing, this was murder." Blackwell reiterated those words when he had the final words of the day.
During his closing statements Blackwell made perhaps the most powerful and emotional rebuttal to the defense's argument that "Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big." Blackwell said "And now having seen all the evidence and having heard on the evidence, you know the truth, and the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small."
What were Derek Chauvin’s attorney’s closing statements?
Defense attorney Eric Nelson in his closing statements said the state has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. He said that it "flies in the face of reason and common sense," to overlook Floyd’s underlying heart disease and drug use in his death and focus solely positional asphyxia was the sole cause of Floyd's death as experts for the state testified to.
During his two-hour presentation Nelson said Chauvin followed his training and that any use of unlawful force on Floyd wasn’t intentional. However he did admit potential error when he said “Officers are human beings capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations.”
The jury will now deliberate the case
After the conclusion of the closing arguments Judge Peter Cahill sent the jurors to deliberate. As they weigh Chauvin's fate in sequestration, Cahill warned them not to let their own biases influence their decision. Nor should they consider any consequences or penalties when deliberating. He urged the jurors to "listen to one another." No verdict is expected right away.