MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Officer Derek Chauvin “had to know” he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as the Black man cried over and over that he couldn’t breathe and finally fell silent, a prosecutor told the jury Monday during closing arguments at Chauvin's murder trial.
“Use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw,” Steve Schleicher said, referring to the excruciating bystander video of Floyd pinned to the pavement with Chauvin's knee on or close to his neck last May for up to 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as bystanders yelled at the white officer to get off.
Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson countered by arguing that Chauvin did what any “reasonable” police officer would have done after finding himself in a "dynamic” and “fluid” situation involving a large man struggling with three police officers.
As Nelson began speaking, the now-fired Chauvin removed his COVID-19 mask in front of the jury for one of the very few times during the trial.
The dueling arguments got underway with Minneapolis on edge after Floyd's death last spring set off protests in the city and across the U.S. that at times turned violent.
The defense contends not only that Chauvin acted reasonably but that the 46-year-old Floyd died of heart disease and illegal drug use, not Chauvin's actions.
Under the law, police are given certain latitude to use force and their actions are supposed to be judged according to what a “reasonable officer” in the same situation would have done — a point the defense stressed repeatedly.
Nelson noted that officers who first went to the corner store where Floyd allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill already were struggling with Floyd when Chauvin arrived as backup. The attorney also noted that the first two officers on the...