Minneapolis, April 20 2021: After the closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin case in Minneapolis on Monday, the jury has been sequestered and will begin deliberations on the fate of the White ex-policeman of the Minneapolis force.
The case against Chauvin is the charge of second degree murder of George Floyd, a Black man whose death sparked nationwide outrage and a debate on racism and use of police brutality particularly against people of color. The death of Floyd has opened the floodgates on the nationwide reckoning on racism.
The prosecutors called the incident a shocking abuse of authority while the defense attorney Eric Nelson told the jury they need to look at Chauvin’s actions “from the perspective of a reasonable police officer.” He insisted that his client did not use unlawful force and that the cause of death was not a choke-hold or a neck restraint imposed on Floyd. The defense maintains that Chauvin acted within the confines of the law and used the principles of his training. The prosecution has called multiple witnesses attesting to the fact that the cause of death as revealed by the autopsy was indeed through strangulation from a manual choke-hold and not as the defense says from the cocktail of Fentanyl and Methamphetamine drugs interacting with an underlying heart condition in Floyd’s body.
The result of the case which has already which sparked debates about racial injustice around the world will become a landmark test of police accountability in the United States.
The Hennepin county Judge Peter Cahill hearing the case, meanwhile asked the 12 jurors to be absolutely fair and to apply the principles of the law while weighing the evidence. The judge sought to underscore the significance of the case particularly in light of later incidents and police killings and told jurors not to be led by passion, public opinions, private sympathies and prejudice. He said the jurors must rule free from biases resulting from the consequences or penalties after the verdict.
In a video shown to the jury at the out set of the trial, Chauvin is seen kneeling on the victim’s neck and pinning him face-down for over 9 minutes during which he repeatedly gasps saying “I can’t breathe”.
The closing comments of the prosecutor Steve Schleiner impressed upon the jury the importance of the visual evidence. “This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. You can believe 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.” He called Chauvin’s actions an abuse of authority resulting in murder and not reasonable policing. He said the defendant was guilty on all three counts and there was no excuse for his behavior.
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