The George Floyd trial starts today. Here’s what you need to know

Daniel Fowler
March 30, 2021

The protest came shortly before the start of opening arguments in Chauvin's murder and manslaughter trial.

The death of Mr Floyd and the circulation of the video worldwide sparked a wave of protests in the United States and beyond demanding justice and highlighting the unequal treatment of black people by the police in America.

National Guard troops have been deployed to the courthouse, which is also surrounded by concrete barriers, fencing, barbed and razor wire in anticipation of peaceful protests.

She and other relatives have been told by the court they must take turns in using a single chair reserved for Floyd's family in the courtroom, which has been kitted out with plexiglass screens, hand-sanitizer stations and other anti-coronavirus measures.

A witness has told of the last harrowing minutes of George Floyd's life on the opening day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white American policeman accused of killing him.

Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, said he had faith that Chauvin would be convicted.

"You will learn that on May 25 of 2020 Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed his badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd", he said.

"He put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath - no ladies and gentlemen - until the very life, was squeezed out of him", Blackwell said.

"She wanted to check on his pulse, check on Mr. Floyd's well-being", Blackwell said.

"We are taking a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, and we want you to think of during that time, why Chauvin didn't, in that time get his knee up?", Sharpton said in a news conference this morning.

Mr Blackwell said in his opening statement that the fire department first responder who wanted to administer aid was warned off by Chauvin, who pointed Mace at her. "She did her best to intervene".

"Derek Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do over the course of his 19-year career", Mr Nelson told the jury. Mr. Chauvin reached for his Mace and pointed it in her direction.

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He urged the jury to ignore the politics and social issues surrounding the case.

But Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, said in his opening statement the evidence in the case is "far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds" and implored the jury to consider all the evidence.

His lawyers say that Floyd actually died of a drug overdose and Chauvin shouldn't go to jail.

Floyd, 46, had none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation and had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, Nelson said.

What must the court decide?

The defense is expected to argue that those "other significant conditions" are what ultimately killed Floyd, and that Chauvin should not be held criminally responsible.

The 45-year-old Chauvin, who is white, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd, who was 46.

Prosecutors would have to prove that Chauvin's conduct was a substantial factor to have him convicted of unintentional second-degree murder. For third-degree murder, they must prove that Chauvin's actions caused Floyd's death, and were reckless and without regard for human life.

One juror - who was a back-up option in case a juror dropped out before proceedings began - was dismissed on Monday, and the trial began with 12 jurors and two alternates.

Fourteen people in the jury box are hearing the case - eight of them white, six of them Black or multiracial, according to the court. The judge has not said which ones will be alternates and which ones will deliberate the case.

Other deaths involving the police force using excessive force against Black Americans include the 2016 killing of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old man who was shot seven times at close range during a traffic stop, also in Minnesota, just after he had informed the police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, that he was carrying a gun.

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