Testimony began Monday after opening statements from the trial of, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of the death of George Floyd. Chauvin, who was seen in a disturbing video kneeling on the neck of the unarmed black man, is charged with second degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.
Prosecutors released video of Floyd’s death to jurors during their opening statements, saying Chauvin used lethal force on a “defenseless” Floyd and handcuffed him for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said Floyd died of oxygen starvation under pressure from Chauvin’s knee, but defense attorney Eric Nelson argued Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia complicated by fentanyl and methamphetamine. that he had ingested before his arrest.
Following opening statements, prosecutors called their first witness to the stand, a 911 dispatcher who said she called a police sergeant when she saw officers immobilize Floyd on video footage from a camera from the ‘across the street.
The day ended with a disturbing testimony from a former mixed martial arts trained wrestler who described watching Floyd “slowly fade away”.
Last year’s murder sparked outrage and worldwide recognition Three other officers involved in the fatal arrest of May 2020 are accused of complicity and will be tried jointly in August. Chauvin pleaded not guilty.
Fifteen jurors, including four black and two multiracial, were chosen in a week-long jury selection process earlier this month. One was removed from his post early in the proceedings, leaving 12 jurors and two deputies to hear the case.
The trial is expected to last two to four weeks at the highly secure Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, after which the jury will begin deliberations. Judge Peter Cahill limits the number of participants in the courtroom due toconcerns and authorizes the televising of debates, a rarity in the State.
In court on Monday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said the trial would be emotional for the family of Floyd, whom he represents. Crump said if the family had received afrom the city of Minneapolis, they are seeking “full justice” in the criminal trial.
“What we want to know is, will we see justice?” Said Crump. “The whole world is watching.”
Testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET).