USA city on edge as jury deliberates Chauvin verdict — George Floyd

Ben Crump left the attorney representing George Floyd's family speaks during a news conference outside of the Hennepin

The murder case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of Black man George Floyd has gone to the jury.

The jury have been sent out in the murder case against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd.

Mr Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on the neck of Mr Floyd, who was pinned facedown handcuffed on the ground for more than nine minutes complaining "I can't breathe".

In a closing argument that lasted almost three hours, defense attorney Eric Nelson said Chauvin followed police procedure and acted reasonably when he restrained Floyd last May.

He repeated a single phrase scores of times, saying Chauvin behaved as a "reasonable police office" would in dealing with a man as "large" as Floyd, who was struggling against being put in a police vehicle when Chauvin arrived, responding to a call for back-up.

They also called a number of bystanders who watched Mr. Chauvin restrain Mr. Floyd in the street, recalling how they pleaded with him to stop.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill issued final instructions to the jury after prosecutors and the defence attorney for Derek Chauvin made their closing arguments.

Schleicher pointed jurors toward the testimony of a forensic toxicologist who found fentanyl levels were "well below the ratio" of people who die from an overdose and a "very low" level of methamphetamine in blood taken from Floyd at the hospital. The case has set this city on edge and gripped the nation with questions around race and police brutality.

Chauvin's lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, countered that Chauvin behaved as any "reasonable police officer" would, arguing that he followed his training from 19 years on the force. The lawyer also noted that the first two officers on the scene were rookies and that police had been told Mr Floyd might be on drugs. Experts called by the state said regular use could have increased Floyd's tolerance.

But prosecutor Steve Schleicher urged jurors to "use your common sense".

The defence attorney said the failure of the prosecution to acknowledge that medical problems or drugs played a role "defies medical science and it defies common sense and reason".

Chauvin's defense attorney has repeatedly argued that Floyd's death was caused by his use of illegal drugs and underlying health conditions, while prosecutors worked to convince jurors that Chauvin killed the Black man by pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for about 9 1/2 minutes.

"The force was too much. He knew better. He just didn't do better", said Mr Schleicher, adding that even a nine-year-old bystander knew it was unsafe.

"The defendant heard him say that over and over".

Defense attorney Eric Nelson mimics someone feigning a medical emergency as he makes closing arguments during the trial
George Floyd 'asked for help with his very last breath', prosecutor tells jury in closing arguments

Chauvin is charged with manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder.

Ms Waters has been widely criticised for her inflammatory remarks after she called for a guilty verdict on the most serious charges.

To convict Mr. Chauvin of second-degree murder, jurors need to conclude that Mr. Chauvin's restraint was unreasonable and that he intentionally took actions likely to inflict substantial bodily harm.

"He was trapped ... a knee to his neck", Schleicher said, with Chauvin's weight on him for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

"The motto of the Minneapolis Police Department is to protect with courage and to serve with compassion", he said.

"George Floyd was not a threat to anyone".

"He was not trying to hurt anyone". He was not trying to do anything to anyone. "One pill that was not in George Floyd". And none was shown on that day. "All that was required was some compassion, and he got none".

Jurors will be sequestered until they reach a verdict.

"You must be absolutely fair", Cahill said.

The closing arguments here in downtown Minneapolis come amid increased pain in the area.

He said a reasonable officer with Chauvin's training and experience - he was a 19-year Minneapolis police veteran - should have sized up the situation accurately. He said officers may have determined it was not safe to render medical aid to Mr Floyd in that environment.

Mr Wright's killing triggered several nights of protests in Minneapolis and National Guard troops have been deployed in the Minnesota city where shop windows have been boarded up as a precaution.

Almost 3,000 National Guard troops are on patrol throughout the region.

In Chauvin's case, after the jury retired, the defense raised the irresponsible statement by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) calling on protesters to get "more confrontational".


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