The fate of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who kneeled on the neck of George Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, is in the hands of the jury. In closing arguments, the prosecutor said Derek Chauvin’s pride and ego were key to his mindset when Chauvin murdered Floyd in front of horrified bystanders.
“He was not going to let these bystanders tell him what to do. He was going to do what he wanted, how he wanted, for as long as he wanted. And there was nothing, nothing they can do about it because he had the authority. He had the power, and the other officers, the bystanders were powerless, He was trying to win, and George Floyd paid for it with his life.”-Steve Schleicher, Prosecutor.
George Floyd called out for his mother and pleaded for his life as Chauvin continued to press his knee on his neck until he died. Defense attorney Eric Nelson delivered a lengthy closing argument saying it was “nonsense” to think Floyd’s alleged drug use and heart condition did not play a role in his death.
“When you review the entirety of the evidence. When you review the law, as written and you conclude it all within this, all within a thorough and honest analysis. The state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Nelson stated.
Defense attorney Nelson argued that Derek Chauvin did not need to prove his innocence and that Floyd was resisting arrest at the time of his death. The prosecuting attorney, Jerry Blackwell during his rebuttal argument said, “He had the bullets, the guns, and the mace that he threatened the bystanders with. He had backup. He had the badge. He had all of it. And what was there to be afraid of, here particularly, at this scene? There were three high school juniors there, and a second-grader who was going to the store to get candy. There was a high school senior who was taking her cousin to the store…this case is so simple a child could understand it. “The 9-year-old girl said, ‘get off of him.’ That is how simple it was. Get off of him”.
He concluded his rebuttal by saying Chauvin’s heart was too small.
“You are told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that testimony. And now having seen all the evidence and having heard on the evidence, you know the truth, and the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is that Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
As the judge gave instructions to the jury, they were told, they would have to rely on their own memory and notes they were allowed to take. The jurors were told there would be no trial transcript. The judge told the jurors “You must not consider any consequences or penalties that might follow from your verdict. You must not be biased in favor of or against any party or witness because of his or her disability, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national or social-economic status. Your verdict must be based solely on the evidence presented. And the law that I give you,”
The jury is now sequestered for deliberations until they reach a unanimous verdict. Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 40 years for second-degree murder, 10 for manslaughter, and 25 years for third-degree murder.
Cities are already on high alert and are preparing for protests. In Minnesota, the governor has requested assistance from Ohio and Nebraska. Illinois activated the National Guard at the Mayor’s request. 125 guard members will assist with supporting the Chicago Police Department beginning on Tuesday.
The murder of George Floyd sparked uprisings and protests around the world with a spotlight on police brutality and racism. Now the world watches again, bracing itself for the worst while hoping justice is finally served.
“You’ve actually have heard from 45 witnesses on the stand, but there is a 46th witness. This witness was testifying to you before you got here into the courtroom… And that witness, ladies, and gentlemen is common sense. Common sense.” Prosecuting Attorney Jerry Blackwell.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSandersOfficial.