Former Minneapolis officer goes on trial on charge of murdering George Floyd
Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin betrayed his badge by "grinding" his knee into George Floyd’s neck during a deadly arrest last May, a prosecutor said on Monday at a murder trial.
Chauvin’s lawyers responded by saying that the former officer was simply following training from his 19 years on the force, even as they acknowledged that the arrest was distressing to watch.
"The use of force is not attractive but it is a necessary component of policing," Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lead lawyer, said in his opening statement, referring to the videos that show Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man, pleading for his life.
But in his opening arguments, Jerry Blackwell, a prosecutor with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, told the racially diverse jury that officers who wear the Minneapolis police badge pledge never to use “unnecessary force or violence."
"You will learn that on May 25, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of George Floyd," said Blackwell, aiming for a rare conviction of a U.S. police officer for killing a civilian.
Blackwell displayed a still image from a bystander’s cellphone video showing Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, saying it showed Chauvin "grinding and crushing him until the very breath — no, ladies and gentlemen — the very life was squeezed out of him."
Chauvin and three other officers were trying to arrest Floyd on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes, a misdemeanor that prosecutors said could have been handled with a summons to appear in court instead of an arrest, Reuters reported.
Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.
The Minneapolis Police Department fired all four officers the day after Floyd’s death, as daily protests against racial injustice erupted in cities across the country.