MINNEAPOLIS — After more than two weeks of witness testimony and hours of attorney arguments, a jury has returned a verdict for former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd.
During closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors attempted to keep the jury's focus on the widely-shared bystander video that shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck and back for nearly nine minutes.
Prosecutors say this position, with a knee on his neck, and holding Floyd down on the pavement for so long is what caused his death, by asphyxiation. The defense argued there were other contributing factors in Floyd's death, including health concerns and drug use.
"This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It’s exactly that. You can believe your eyes. It’s exactly what you believed. It’s exactly what you saw with your eyes. It’s exactly what you knew. It’s what you felt in your gut. It’s what you now know in your heart," prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher said. "This wasn’t policing. This was murder. The defendant is guilty of all three counts, all of them. And there’s no excuse."
The closing arguments were consistent with the state's case against Chauvin. It has repeatedly pointed to the viral video as the best case for convicting the former Minneapolis police officer of murder. The state has also relied on police experts who deemed Chauvin's use of force excessive, and medical experts who say that Floyd died of low levels of oxygen, caused primarily by Chauvin blocking his breathing.
"The standard is not what should the officer have done," Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said. "The standard is what were the facts known to this officer at the exact moment he used force," and "would a reasonable police officer, what would a reasonable police officer have done."
Prior to closing statements on Monday, Nelson made a motion for a mistrial on the grounds of statements made by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California. Waters, who joined those protesting the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright on Saturday in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, told news outlets that "I hope that we're going to get a verdict that is a guilty," and that "if we don't, we cannot go away."
Judge Peter Cahill dismissed Nelson's motion for a mistrial, but added that Waters' statement may give Chauvin's team grounds for appeal.
- Read full coverage of the trial below:
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