A prosecutor told jurors to “believe your eyes” as he replayed video of George Floyd’s death last May beneath the knee of Derek Chauvin in closing arguments on Monday (April 19) in the former police officer’s murder trial.
Over and over again, Steve Schleicher, a prosecutor with the Minnesota attorney general’s office, repeated a phrase: “Nine minutes and 29 seconds,” – the length of time Chauvin was captured on video on May 25, 2020, with his knee pressed into the dying Floyd’s neck.
Although the jury’s verdict will be seen as a reckoning in the way the United States polices Black people, Schleicher emphasized that the jury was weighing the guilt of only one man.
“This is not a prosecution of the police,” Schleicher told jurors. He cited the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department, which fired Chauvin and three other officers involved the day after Floyd’s arrest: “To protect with courage and to serve with compassion.”
“George Floyd was not a threat to anyone,” Schleicher said. “Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage, and none was shown on that day, no courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”
Chauvin, who is white, pushed his knee into the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man, for more than nine minutes outside the grocery store that had accused Floyd of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
An image of Floyd’s face has since been elevated to an icon for the largest protest movement in the United States in decades.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree “depraved mind” murder and second-degree manslaughter. He waived his right to testify before the jurors, and his lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, was due to present his own closing argument later on Monday.
(Production: Vanessa Johnston)