Monday is an important day for the citizens of Minneapolis as it marks the start of the end of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial. Chauvin was accused of killing 46-year-old George Floyd last year after he knelt on his neck for over 9 minutes.
Both the defense and prosecution have rested their cases and are scheduled to deliver their closing arguments.
The trial lasted over three weeks of expert opinions and emotional testimony. Not to mention, there is added pressure on the trial as two other fatal police shootings took place during that time. With Monday’s schedule, it will give both sides their final opportunity to voice out before a jury makes a decision.
The 45-year-old former police officer is facing three charges: second-degree manslaughter, second-degree murder, and third-degree murder.
Judge Peter Cahill encouraged jurors to prepare for a lengthy deliberation before taking a break for the weekend. The judge advises to “plan for long and hope for short.”
But despite his suggestion, Cahill shared that it is “up to the jury how long you deliberate, how long you need to come to a unanimous decision on any count.”
The prosecution highlighted the testimonies of eyewitnesses, medical experts, and video footage coming from the arrest. Eric Nelson, defense attorney for the defendant, has worked to instill reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. Nelson argued that Floyd’s death can be attributed to his history of drug use and possible carbon monoxide poisoning coming from the exhaust of the squad car.
In his opening argument, Nelson said:
“The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, his coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and the adrenaline flowing through his body — all of which acted to further compromise an already compromised heart.”
The prosecutors argued against this by enlisting experts who pointed out the excessive use of force by the police officers in the arrest. Even the Hennepin County medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, said that he did not believe Floyd’s death was caused by the drugs in his system. Baker also ruled his death as a homicide.
“In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint, and the neck compression were just more than Mr. Floyd could take, by virtue of those heart conditions,” Baker told the court.