The jury in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin have begun the second day of deliberations, according to the Hennepin County Court.
Yesterday, the prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments. The prosecuting attorney said Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck and back for 9 minutes and 29 seconds because of his pride and his ego in the face of concerned bystanders.
In response, defense attorney Eric Nelson said Chauvin acted as a “reasonable officer” would in that situation and said there was no evidence he intentionally or purposefully used force that was unlawful. Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell then delivered a rebuttal rejecting the defense’s claim that Floyd died because of an enlarged heart.
If you missed the closing arguments, here’s a recap of what both sides said:
Prosecution: In his closing argument, prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher spoke for an hour and 43 minutes as he sought to prove that Chauvin used excessive and unreasonable force and caused Floyd’s death.
He contrasted Chauvin’s “ego-based pride” with the proper feelings of pride in wearing a police badge and praised policing as a noble profession. He insisted the state was prosecuting Chauvin individually — not policing in general.
“This is not an anti-police prosecution; it is a pro-police prosecution,” he said. “There is nothing worse for good police than bad police.”
Schleicher’s closing argument relied on a series of video clips that showed Chauvin’s actions that day, linking them explicitly to the language of each charge.
“George Floyd’s final words on May 25, 2020, were, ‘Please, I can’t breathe,’ and he said those words to Derek Chauvin,” Schleicher told the jurors. “All that was required was a little compassion, and none was shown on that day.”
Schleicher told jurors to reject defense theories and look at what they know happened.
Defense: Defense attorney Eric Nelson’s case to acquit Chauvin has been to argue that his use of force was appropriate, that he was distracted by the crowd of hostile bystanders and that Floyd died due to fentanyl and methamphetamine use, his resistance of officers and his underlying health issues.
He said the prosecution’s focus on 9 minutes and 29 seconds, rather than Floyd’s active resistance in the minutes earlier, was inappropriate.
“It’s not the proper analysis because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds. It completely disregards it,” he said. “Human behavior is unpredictable, and nobody knows it better than a police officer.”
Nelson argued Chauvin had no intent to use unlawful force and that he followed his training. He also highlighted Floyd’s use of fentanyl and methamphetamine and his heart issues, and he expressed incredulity that the prosecution’s doctors dismissed those as a cause in his death.
He spoke for about two and a half hours before Judge Cahill forced him to pause so that the jury could have lunch. After the break, Nelson spoke for about 15 minutes more.
Read more about yesterday’s closing arguments here.