MINNEAPOLIS – Attorneys made their closing statements within the homicide trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday, leaving jurors to make sense of two solely totally different arguments to decide whether or not Chauvin is responsible of homicide or manslaughter in George Floyd’s demise final May.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s knee – pressed towards 46-year-old Floyd’s neck whereas he was handcuffed and face-down on the road – led to his demise by lack of oxygen. The defense argued underlying coronary heart points and the methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system brought about Floyd’s demise whereas he struggled with police.
Both sides used nonetheless pictures, video clips and visible aids as they talked the jury by way of the fees Chauvin, 45, faces: second- and third-degree homicide and second-degree manslaughter.
During the statements, Chauvin took notes on a yellow authorized pad, as he has accomplished for weeks. So did the jurors.
As lead protection legal professional Eric Nelson instructed jurors Chauvin acted like another “reasonable officer” throughout his closing arguments, Chauvin took his surgical masks off, giving jurors a take a look at his complete face.
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An indignant mob or witnesses-to-be?
Prosecutors described the bystanders watching Chauvin restrain Floyd as horrified strangers introduced collectively to witness what occurred and testify earlier than the jurors.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher concluded his argument with an enchantment to jurors as “random members of the community, all converged by fate at one single moment in time to witness” what occurred. Though they have been powerless on the time, he mentioned, they have been empowered to convey their testimony to jurors.
Defense legal professional Eric Nelson referred to these bystanders as an indignant, threatening, distracting crowd that prevented Chauvin from noticing the second Floyd took his final breath.
Nelson performed for jurors video of the second that, in accordance to an skilled for the prosecution, Floyd misplaced consciousness. Noting how off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen had approached officers, Nelson mentioned Chauvin pulled his Mace out and targeted on her, quite than on Floyd beneath him.
Medical take care of Floyd
The prosecution mentioned officers violated the Minneapolis Police Department’s “duty of care” coverage, which required them to render help to Floyd as quickly as potential when he exhibited medical misery.
“George Floyd’s final words on May 25, 2020, were: ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ He asked for help with his very last breath,” Schleicher mentioned. “All that was required was compassion.”
Schleicher mentioned “sanctity of life” is a cornerstone of the department’s use-of-force policy, and as first responders, officers are taught basic first aid, including CPR and chest compressions.
Chauvin “didn’t follow the hundreds of hours of training he had. He didn’t follow the department’s rules or do CPR,” Schleicher mentioned. “He knew better, he just didn’t do better.”
Chauvin should have known how to handle someone in crisis, Schleicher said, noting that Floyd told police about his anxiety and claustrophobia as they tried to cram him into the back of a squad car. Just because he couldn’t comply doesn’t mean he was resisting, he said.
Rather than care for Floyd, Schleicher said, officers were “picking rocks out of the tire and commenting on the smell of a man’s feet.”
Nelson argued that Chauvin and the other officers did as they were trained by calling for an ambulance and alerting authorities of the severity of the situation. He said they couldn’t do more because the scene wasn’t safe.
He said Chauvin did not have decades of medical experience like Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist and expert witness for the state who had the luxury to watch the video footage for hours. Nor was Chauvin taught that the kick of Floyd’s leg was his brain’s last gasp from oxygen loss, Nelson said.
Instead, Nelson said, a “reasonable officer” – a phrase he repeated, based on a Supreme Court case in 1989 on use of force – is simply taught to use additional force to overcome a suspect’s resistance, which explained why an officer pressed Floyd’s leg down when it rose up.
“It is not uncommon for suspects to feign or pretend to have a medical emergency while being arrested,” Nelson mentioned.
He performed movies exhibiting Floyd saying he could not breathe earlier than he was on the bottom, suggesting that these cries beneath Chauvin’s knee did not imply he was actually in misery.
9:29 versus 16:59
Schleicher repeatedly cited the “nine minutes and 29 seconds” of the bystander video, exhibiting moments by which Chauvin had his knee positioned on high of Floyd’s neck and again.
“George Floyd begged until he could speak no more, and the defendant continued this assault,” Schleicher instructed the jurors.
“When he was unable to speak, the defendant continued,” Schleicher mentioned. “When the defendant was unable to breathe, the defendant continued. Beyond the point he had a pulse. The defendant continued this assault, nine minutes and 29 seconds. When the ambulance arrived, the ambulance was here, and the defendant continued, the defendant continued. He would not let up.”
Nelson argued that “the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds” when officers were dealing with Floyd.
He focused on Floyd’s interactions with officers before being under Chauvin’s knee. He noted that Chauvin, as a “reasonable officer,” had to take into account the entire situation because “human behavior is unpredictable, and nobody knows it better than a police officer.”
“Someone can be compliant one second and fighting the next,” Nelson said.
The prosecution has not challenged the officers’ early interactions with Floyd as excessive. Their expert witness testified that their restraint of Floyd became excessive and unreasonable only when Floyd was on the ground.
Nelson showed body camera footage of Chauvin standing back while other officers tried to deal with Floyd. Nelson noted that Chauvin only moved in when they couldn’t handle him.
A focus on Chauvin versus Floyd
Schleicher reminded jurors that Chauvin is on trial, not the police, and Floyd is not on trial for his drug use or anything else.
“This is not a prosecution of the police, it’s a prosecution of the defendant,” Schleicher said. “And there’s nothing worse for good police than bad police, who doesn’t follow the rules, who doesn’t follow training.”
Referring to the pictures of the horrified crowed and the look on Chauvin’s face as he had his knee on Floyd’s neck, Schleicher instructed jurors that Chauvin “chose pride over policing.”
Schleicher referred to as the knee restraint “unnecessary, gratuitous and disproportionate, and Chauvin did it on purpose. This was not an accident. He did not trip and fall and find himself on George Floyd’s neck.”
Nelson portrayed Chauvin as concerned by Floyd’s size and the fact that he was “on one thing,” as he told a bystander.
Nelson argued that Floyd’s drug use was a crucial part of the evidence, and that officers have seen people come to after being unconscious and become violent.
Nelson told jurors that people under the influence of certain drugs can possess greater-than-normal strength, and Chauvin was responding to the information he had at the time.
Policing versus an assault
The crux of whether Chauvin will be found guilty of murder is whether his restraint of Floyd was an assault or standard policing, which Nelson said can be “lawful however terrible.”
Schleicher told jurors that in this case, it was “simply terrible.” He told jurors the police were called for an alleged counterfeit $20 bill, and no evidence was presented to show Floyd knew it was fake.
Calling Chauvin’s actions a “surprising abuse of police energy,” Schleicher said Chauvin’s actions, which were observed by a 9-year-old, were “not policing” but “an assault.”
He told jurors they must ask themselves: “But for the defendant’s actions, pushing him down, would George Floyd have died that day?”
Nelson called the entire situation “tragic,” arguing that “the entire proof reveals that Mr. Chauvin thought he was following his coaching. He was in reality following his coaching. He was following Minneapolis Police Department insurance policies. He was skilled this fashion. It all demonstrates a scarcity of intent.”
Under the Fourth Amendment and a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case, jurors should consider what a reasonable officer would do, having the same knowledge and being placed in the same situation to determine whether the force used by an officer is excessive.
Follow Tami Abdollah, a nationwide correspondent for felony justice who’s protecting the Chauvin trial, on Twitter @latams