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On 25 May 2020, George Floyd died after being arrested by police in Minneapolis on suspicion of using a fake US$20 dollar to pay for groceries in a shop. The case became the focus of the Black Lives Matter campaign and there is intense scrutiny of the trial.
At the opening statements of the trial for the murder of George Floyd, while being arrested by a Minneapolis police officer last May, Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said: "You will learn that on 25 May of 2020, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed his 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 of him," Mr. Blackwell added.
Mr. Blackwell said Chauvin did not even take his knee off Floyd’s neck when his breathing became shallow and then stopped or when the paramedics arrived to treat him. He said the Minneapolis Police Department chief and several police officers and experts in police training would be testifying for the prosecution at the trial.
At the trial of officer Derek Chauvin, the jury was shown a video taken by a bystander of the officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jurors Chauvin did not “let up or get up” as Floyd repeated 27 times that he was struggling to breathe.
The arrest video triggered nationwide protests and riots last year by people complaining about police abuse of African-Americans. In the video, Floyd is shown handcuffed and face down on the pavement, calling for his mother and pleading for his life.
Chauvin denies second and third-degree murder and manslaughter. The defense is expected to claim Floyd died due to his health issues, including suffering from COVID-19.
First day of George Floyd's trial:
Prosecutors show video of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, call it a "homicide". Prosecutors argued that Chauvin betrayed his oath when he used "excessive and unreasonable force". @susanmtehrani has more details pic.twitter.com/E54UxCZgnr
Chauvin had eighteen complaints on his official record, two of which ended in department discipline, including official reprimand letters. He had been involved in three police shootings, one of which was fatal. A club owner where Chauvin had worked as a security guard also said that Chauvin had sometimes used overly aggressive tactics when dealing with black patrons, responding to fights by spraying the crowd with mace rather than dealing with those who were fighting.
The prosecutor said the offense which Floyd faced was a “misdemeanor,” for which they could have simply given him a ticket. But instead, they chose to arrest him and hold him on the ground in handcuffs. Mr. Blackwell said: "One of those things that this case is not about: all police, all policing. Police officers have difficult jobs...They sometimes have to make split-second life and death decisions… This case is about Mr. Derek Chauvin."
#FromTheSouth News Bits | This Tuesday the high-profile trial of the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd—an African-American man whose death sparked mass protests against systemic racism and police brutality in the US and worldwide—began with the jury selection. pic.twitter.com/xKjt4iAEnM