Derek Chauvin trial: latest from court case as Chauvin refuses to testify over the killing of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd (Getty Images)Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd (Getty Images)
Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd (Getty Images)
Derek Chauvin, the police officer who restrained George Floyd, is standing trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota in connection with Floyd’s death.

In May 2020, Chauvin was filmed restraining Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes after arresting him. Shortly afterwards, Floyd was pronounced dead.

The death of Floyd, an African American, sparked a wave of anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests around the world.

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What are the latest developments from the trial?

Derek Chauvin declined to testify in the trial, invoking his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. By doing so, he has given up the chance to explain to the jury why he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

While the prosecution’s case ran for over a week, the defence wrapped up their case after just two days, meaning no more evidence will now be introduced in the trial.

The court is now in recess in Monday, when both the prosecution and defence will make their closing arguments before the case is handed to the jury for a decision.

What is Chauvin accused of?

Police officer Derek Chauvin is being charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He is being tried at Hennepin County Courthouse, Minneapolis.

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Chauvin arrested Floyd on suspicion of passing counterfeit currency on the evening of May 25, 2020, kneeling on Floyd’s neck after taking him into custody.

The first charge of second-degree unintentional murder is the most serious. It requires those prosecuting to demonstrate that Chauvin was assaulting Floyd when he caused his death.

If found guilty on this count, Chauvin may face 10-15 years in prison.

The second charge requires proof that Chauvin demonstrated a reckless disregard for human life, while the charge of second-degree manslaughter will require convincing the jury that Chauvin took an “unreasonable risk” by restraining Floyd with his knee.

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Crucially, the manslaughter charge does not require proof that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death.

It carries a lighter sentence of between three to five years in prison.

Chauvin, 45, has denied the charges of second- and third-degree murder, and manslaughter.

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What were the opening arguments?

Attorney Jerry Blackwell, prosecuting, told the jury in his opening statement that Chauvin "betrayed his badge" through his actions last May, using force that was “excessive and unreasonable” to restrain Floyd.

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He also said that the officer’s actions weren’t consistent with police training, and that Chauvin’s behaviour was “a major cause in Floyd's death"

Blackwell drew the jury’s attention to the “important numbers” in the case, namely nine minutes and 29 seconds: the amount of time the prosecution are arguing that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.

Chauvin is denying the charges of murder and manslaughter levelled at him.

Lawyer Eric Nelson told the jury that the trial was not “about a political or social cause”, saying in his opening statement that the case is about the evidence.

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He pushed back against the prosecution’s mention of “nine minutes and 29 seconds”, saying the evidence was “far greater” than this figure.

Some of this evidence includes, he said, Floyd having drugs in his body at the time of death. The defence is suggesting that these drugs contributed to Floyd’s death.

Nelson added that the kneeling on Floyd’s neck followed a “struggle”, with officers unable to overcome the latter’s strength.