Lawyers Present Case in George Floyd Death

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Ms. Scurry said she heard a loud noise in the background over the radio and decided on her own to call in backup, which brought Mr. Chauvin and his partner to the scene. The first officers at Cup Foods, responding to the call that Mr. Floyd had passed a fake $20 bill, did not ask for backup themselves.

Over the break we learned from the pool reporters in the courtroom that Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, is in the Floyd family seat in court. The seat reserved for a family member of Mr. Chauvin is unoccupied, as it was throughout jury selection.

Jena Scurry, the 911 operator who saw the police pin George Floyd via surveillance cameras, said she had only watched surveillance footage of police responding to a call a handful of times. Derek Chauvin’s lawyer could highlight that to try to make a case that she does not have expertise in determining whether or not the police acted appropriately.

The trial has resumed after breaking for lunch. Eric Nelson, the lawyer for former officer Derek Chauvin, is now beginning to question Jena Scurry, a 911 operator, after the prosecution finished questioning her.

Jena Scurry, the first witness in the trial of Derek Chauvin, answering questions from Minnesota’s assistant attorney general, Matthew Frank.
Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

A 911 dispatcher who watched the police pin George Floyd to the ground on a surveillance camera said in court on Monday that the restraint went on for so long that she asked someone if her “screens had frozen.”

The dispatcher, Jena Scurry, was the first witness called to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with murder in Mr. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. A prosecutor questioned her for about an hour before jurors took a break for lunch. When they return at around 1:30 Central time, Ms. Scurry will be questioned by Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.

Ms. Scurry said that as she watched a video feed of the police pinning Mr. Floyd to the ground outside the Cup Foods convenience store in May, she grew so concerned that she called her supervisor, a police sergeant, to let him know what she was seeing.

“My instincts were telling me that something’s wrong,” she testified in court. But Ms. Scurry was circumspect about what exactly she thought was wrong, saying that she thought the officers might need reinforcements at the scene.

Her call to the supervising sergeant was released by the City of Minneapolis in June, but the public had never heard directly from Ms. Scurry or known her identity. She began that call by saying, “You can call me a snitch if you want to,” a line she explained in court on Monday by saying that it had been “out of the scope” of her duties to call a sergeant on a use-of-force issue.

Prosecutors are most likely hoping that jurors will see her concern as a sign that Mr. Chauvin had done something unusual and inappropriate when he restrained Mr. Floyd by kneeling on his neck for about 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, is expected to argue that Mr. Chauvin had acted within the bounds of his training.

O.J. Simpson and one of his defense lawyers, F. Lee Bailey, left, consulting with each other during Mr. Simpson’s double-murder trial in Los Angeles in June 1995.
Credit…Pool image by Reed Saxon

There are some echoes between O.J. Simpson’s celebrated murder trial, which seemed to bring America to a standstill in 1995, and the widely covered proceedings that are underway on Monday at a courthouse in Minneapolis.

Defendants who have become household names. Court TV and numerous other media outlets broadcasting the cases live into homes across America.

But few expect anywhere near as much attention surrounding the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer facing charges in the killing of a Black man, George Floyd.

The reason has little to do with the legal issues at stake. Rather, celebrity was widely seen as the catalyst for the national fascination with the legal drama involving Mr. Simpson, a former football player and actor who was accused — and ultimately found not guilty — of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

“This trial is an issue trial, a very important issue trial,” Laurie L. Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Loyola Law School, said of Mr. Chauvin’s trial. “People went to the streets over this case. But there’s not a celebrity defendant. There are not celebrity lawyers.”

It is, of course, too early to know whether this trial will have any of the dramatic courtroom moments of the Simpson case, such as when a bloody glove introduced as evidence did not appear to fit on Mr. Simpson’s hand and Johnnie Cochran, one of his lawyers, declared, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

In some ways, Ms. Levenson said, Mr. Chauvin’s trial is more similar to an earlier Los Angeles-area trial from the 1990s, that of the white officers who beat another Black motorist, Rodney King. But those proceedings were not televised. The verdict — not guilty for the officers — prompted residents of South Los Angeles to pour into the streets in anger in April 1992.

Ms. Levinson became a household name during the Simpson trial, sitting through months of testimony and providing analysis at night on CBS.

“I’ll be tuning in and out,” she said midway through the proceedings on Monday. “It was important for me to hear the opening statements, and nothing I heard surprised me. I don’t know that I’ll listen to every moment. I doubt I’ll be glued to my set.”

Crowds of protesters gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on Monday as opening arguments began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd in May. Ben Crump, a lawyer for Mr. Floyd’s family, addressed the news media outside the barricaded courthouse.

The court is taking its lunch break. The trial will resume at 1:30 Central.

This call was released months ago, but this is the first time the public has heard directly from Ms. Scurry. She explained the “snitch” line on the stand just now by saying it had been “out of the scope of” her duties to call a sergeant on a use-of-force issue.

When Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher, called the police officers’ sergeant to alert them to the officers’ use of force, she began by saying, “You can call me a snitch if you want to.”

She is being quite circumspect on the stand, though, testifying that one possibility was simply that the officers on the scene needed reinforcements.

The 911 dispatcher is testifying that the restraint of Mr. Floyd went on for so long that she asked if the video had frozen. “My instincts were telling me that something’s wrong,” she said.

She says it was that “gut instinct” that led her to call a police sergeant who was a supervisor for the officers at the scene.

At the center of the video being shown to jurors is the sign for “Cup Foods,” the grocery store that became adorned with bouquets, banners and other memorials in the weeks after George Floyd’s death. A mural of Mr. Floyd’s face was painted on the walls outside.

The prosecution filed a motion today asking the court to allow four witnesses who were minors at the time of George Floyd’s death to give their testimony without it being broadcast to the public. Notably, one of the witnesses is Darnella Frazier, who took the famous bystander video. She was 17 at the time.

The judge has already indicated that he leans against granting requests like these, at least for the witnesses who are now adults, saying that video or at least audio feeds are the only practical way to make this trial public during a pandemic, when the number of people in the courtoom must be limited.

Now the 911 dispatcher is being asked to watch the surveillance camera video of the Floyd arrest and explain what she saw.

The prosecution hopes her narration of what she saw could resonate with the jurors. She is one of only a handful of people, including the other police officers and bystanders, who saw the arrest of George Floyd as it happened.

After the burst of opening arguments from both sides, prosecutors are now walking through each line of the 911 call with a dispatcher.







The ‘World Is Watching’: Sharpton, Crump Speak Before Chauvin Trial

The civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, and Ben Crump, a lawyer for George Floyd’s family, held a news conference in Minneapolis on the first day of the trial for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd.

“Chauvin is in the courtroom, but America is on trial. America is on trial to see if we have gotten to the place where we can hold police accountable if they break the law. The law is for everybody. Policemen are not above the law. Policemen are subject to the law. And that’s what’s going on in this courtroom. And that’s why we’re here.” “George Floyd galvanized cities all across America, and all across the world, when that video, that video of torture was viewed millions and millions of times. So, America, this is the moment. This is the moment to show the rest of the world that you are the standard bearer when it comes to liberty and justice for all — the whole world is watching.”

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The civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, and Ben Crump, a lawyer for George Floyd’s family, held a news conference in Minneapolis on the first day of the trial for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd.CreditCredit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Crump, a lawyer for George Floyd’s family, told supporters on Monday, just as witnesses began to give testimony during the trial, that the world was focused on the case of the former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of Mr. Floyd.

“America is on trial to see if we have gotten to the place where we can hold police accountable if they break the law,” the reverend, a longtime civil rights activist, said outside the Hennepin County Courthouse. “The law is for everybody. Policemen are not above the law. Policemen are subject to the law, and that’s what’s going on in this courtroom.”

Mr. Crump said the trial would be a moment for America to show the rest of the world that it remained the “standard-bearer when it comes to liberty and justice for all.”

“George Floyd galvanized cities all across America, and all across the world, when that video, that video of torture was viewed millions and millions of times,” Mr. Crump said. “The whole world is watching.”

Mr. Crump was among the lawyers who represented Mr. Floyd’s relatives in their lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis. This month, the city agreed to pay $27 million to the family, a settlement that is one of the largest of its kind.

When the attorneys want to discuss something out of earshot of the jury, the court turns on white noise, and the lawyers put on headphones and talk about whatever issue has come up.

The first witness to take the stand in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin on Monday was Jena Scurry, a 911 dispatcher in Minneapolis who alerted a police supervisor in May after she watched officers pin George Floyd to the ground live on a surveillance camera.

Seemingly concerned by the officers’ actions, she had called the supervisor to say that officers “sat on this man” and asked whether they had notified the supervisor that they had used force.

“You can call me a snitch if you want to,” she said before relaying what she saw on the cameras by Cup Foods, the convenience store outside of which Mr. Floyd was arrested.

Prosecutors called Ms. Scurry to the stand, and they will most likely use her testimony to make a case that even Ms. Scurry, who works with law enforcement, was worried about how officers were treating Mr. Floyd. In his opening statement, Jerry W. Blackwell, one of the prosecutors, said Ms. Scurry had done something “she had never done in her career: She called the police on the police.”

When questioning witnesses, especially experts, lawyers tend to start with seemingly boring, technical details about their jobs. This is so they can establish that the witness is credible, before asking questions relevant to the case and evidence.

They have to show that the witness has a reason to know what they are testifying about, and that it isn’t simply hearsay or their own opinion.

From the pool report filed by the print reporter inside the courtroom: Jurors watched intently and took notes while the prosecution gave its opening and played the video, but none seemed visibly upset — although it was hard to tell because they are all wearing masks.

Because the pandemic has limited attendance, just two journalists — one who works for a digital or print outlet, and one from broadcast media — are allowed in the court each day on a rotating basis. They are called pool reporters, and will file notes during breaks to the rest of the media. Because the trial is televised, the notes focus on things that are not caught on camera, such as the reactions and body language of jurors.

In his opening statement, Jerry Blackwell described this witness’s experience: After seeing the arrest of Mr. Floyd on a police camera, “She did something that she had never done in her career. She called the police on the police.”

We will also hear later from the supervisor whom she called, Sgt. David Ploeger.

After the drama of the opening statements, now, with the first witnesses, the trial will settle into a slower pace, which we can expect to continue in the days ahead.

Ms. Scurry, a 911 dispatcher, was able to remotely view camera footage of Mr. Floyd’s death as it happened and is expected to testify that she found what she saw unusual and disturbing.

Jerry W. Blackwell, a lawyer for the prosecution, left, and Eric J. Nelson, a defense lawyer for Derek Chauvin.
Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

Before prosecutors called their first witness, lawyers for both sides made opening statements to jurors in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death. Here’s what happened.

Jerry W. Blackwell, one of the prosecutors, played the lengthy bystander video of Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, noting repeatedly that Mr. Chauvin did not “let up” or “get up” for about nine minutes and 30 seconds. He began to indicate to jurors that, in the prosecutors’ view, Mr. Chauvin used more force than was reasonable, given that Mr. Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground. Mr. Blackwell said to jurors, “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide — it’s murder.”

On the other hand, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, noted that there were more than 50,000 pieces of evidence in the case and that there was much more to what happened than the length of time that Mr. Chauvin had knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck. Mr. Nelson argued that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by his underlying heart disease, use of fentanyl and “the adrenaline flowing through his body.”

He also began to lay the groundwork for an argument that Mr. Chauvin’s force had been within the bounds of his training and that Mr. Floyd had resisted, saying that “this was not an easy struggle.”

Now that opening arguments have concluded, prosecutors will next call the first witness to the stand: a 911 operator for the City of Minneapolis.

Matthew Frank, the head of the criminal division for the Minnesota attorney general’s office, is questioning the first witness, a 911 operator who received calls from bystanders as officers were struggling with Mr. Floyd.

The medical examiner classified the death as a homicide and said the cause was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression” — essentially, that the physical restraint of George Floyd was a significant factor.

Independent pathologists hired by Mr. Floyd’s family attributed his death to asphyxia. The prosecution said there were no physical findings of “traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” and seemed to be planning to argue that Mr. Chauvin’s neck restraint cut off the flow of blood, causing Mr. Floyd to have a heart attack.

But in their opening statement on Monday, prosecutors took a different tack, saying that they would make a case that Mr. Floyd died of asphyxia and would present evidence that asphyxiation was difficult for forensic pathologists to detect.

Jerry W. Blackwell, a lawyer for the prosecution, while giving the opening argument, seemed to suggest that the medical examiner’s finding was not especially significant: “All human beings die of cardiopulmonary arrest because the heart stops and the lung stops — it’s just another way of saying death,” he said.

In the opening statement by the defense, the lawyer Eric J. Nelson, countered by saying that Mr. Floyd had numerous medical issues including heart disease, an enlarged heart, and that his death was caused by multiple factors including “the adrenaline flowing through his body.”

Now that opening arguments from Derek Chauvin’s lawyer and the prosecution have ended, the court is taking a break until 11:15 Central Time.

In summary, the defense is arguing that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by his underlying heart disease, drug use and “adrenaline.”

Both sides have highlighted that Dr. Andrew Baker, the local medical examiner, will be testifying. It’s unlikely there will be any fireworks during his testimony, which will focus on what caused George Floyd’s death, but it could be one of the most important moments of the trial for jurors.

Nelson refers to interviews Dr. Baker gave to law enforcement officials that could be problematic to the state. In one FBI interview, according to court filings, he suggested Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by the struggle to get him inside the squad car, not being on the ground under Mr. Chauvin’s knee.

There’s a noticeable difference between Mr. Nelson’s demeanor during his opening right now compared to jury selection. When questioning jurors, he appeared friendly and tried to get jurors to relax, asking them about their hobbies. Today he is serious, stern, blunt and in command of the case as he sees it.

The prosecution will argue that the officers acted unreasonably, and in violation of their training and police procedure. Mr. Nelson is trying to head this off, emphasizing the fluid nature of police deicison-making in changing conditions: “You will learn that Derek Chauvin was doing exactly what he had been trained to do during the course of his 19-year career.”

Juries, and officials, have typically given the police the benefit of the doubt when officers have to make split-second decisions, like when a suspect appears to be reaching for his waistband. But it will be a hard argument to make here because of the sheer duration of the episode.

Nelson says the anger of the growing crowd of bystanders diverted officers from attending to Mr. Floyd.

Interesting argument. Nelson is essentially saying that the crowd was somewhat at fault for Chauvin’s actions.

An image taken from video of Eric J. Nelson.
Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

Eric J. Nelson is one of a dozen defense lawyers in Minneapolis who represent police officers charged with misconduct. Mr. Nelson, 46, took charge of the former police officer Derek Chauvin’s defense over the summer, after his first lawyer retired.

Before taking on Mr. Chauvin’s case, Mr. Nelson’s most famous client was Amy Senser, the wife of the former Minnesota Vikings tight end Joe Senser. She was convicted of vehicular homicide for a hit-and-run accident in 2011 that left a man dead near a freeway exit ramp and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

He has also defended a former high school basketball star for his role in a bank robbery, and a pastor who was charged with soliciting a prostitute after getting caught in a sting operation.

Over his career, Mr. Nelson has developed a specialty in defending clients accused of driving while intoxicated and has lectured on D.W.I. law and the manufacturing of methamphetamine, according to his bio on his law firm’s website.

Over the past three weeks of jury selection, Mr. Nelson appeared in court each day with Mr. Chauvin and an assistant, Amy Voss. The three people on the defense side of the courtroom are a sharp contrast to the multiple lawyers who have so far appeared for the prosecution, including Minnesota’s attorney general, Keith Ellison, and several high-powered outside lawyers who are working pro bono for the state, including Neal Katyal, a lawyer from Washington, D.C., and the former acting solicitor general during the Obama administration.

Yet, Mr. Nelson has not been working alone: Other lawyers who regularly represent police officers in Minneapolis have been helping him behind-the-scenes, including the defense lawyers for the other three officers involved in the incident that led to Mr. Floyd’s death. Those officers face aiding and abetting charges, and their trial is scheduled in August. Mr. Chauvin’s defense is paid through the legal defense fund of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officer’s Association.

Mr. Nelson, building an argument that the use of force against Mr. Floyd was reasonable, is saying jurors will see video of the squad car he was put in before the neck restraint by Mr. Chauvin rocking back and forth. “This was not an easy struggle.”

The defense is saying that Mr. Floyd was passed out in a car before the police showed up, and his friends were trying to wake him up. This would support the defense argument that he was on a high dose of drugs.

Jurors — and the public — will at some point see surveillance video from inside the Cup Foods convenience store where George Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin says. It has never been played publicly before.

Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, says there are more than 50,000 items in evidence. “This case is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” he says. That’s a direct response to prosecutors’ arguments that the time Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck is the “most important” number in the case.

“There is no political or social cause in this courtroom,” Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, says. He is trying to focus the jury on the specifics of the evidence and steer them away from the wider issues of race and policing in America that the case symbolizes to the world outside the courtroom.

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer begins his opening arguments with the notion of “reasonable doubt.” He needs one juror to buy in to the idea that drugs killed Mr. Floyd, not Mr. Chauvin’s knee, to hang the jury and force a mistrial.

The prosecutor is trying to head off arguments from the defense that George Floyd’s size had anything to do with his death — “his size is no excuse,” he said. George Floyd was already more than six feet tall in middle school and he rapped under the name Big Floyd with popular DJs and rappers in Houston.

Mr. Floyd told the officers he did not want to get into their squad car because he was claustrophobic. The prosecution will say that we will see Mr. Chauvin with his hands around Mr. Floyd’s neck in the squad car.

As Blackwell started discussing cause of death, Chauvin started furiously taking notes on a yellow legal pad. Periodically during jury selection, Chauvin would put his head down and scribble away.

Coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial being shown at the Workout Anytime gym in McDonough, Ga., on Monday.
Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

Less than an hour into the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd, prosecutors played the bystander video of Mr. Chauvin holding his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck that brought international attention to the case in May.

The lengthy video footage, captured outside the Cup Foods convenience store, will most likely be a major part of prosecutors’ strategy. As difficult as it may be for jurors to watch Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, it is probably far from the last time that the video will be played at the trial.

“You can believe your eyes that it’s a homicide — it’s murder,” Jerry W. Blackwell, the prosecutor delivering opening arguments, said shortly after playing the video.

The defense will try to argue that Mr. Floyd took a fatal amount of fentanyl, but now Mr. Blackwell is saying that is not true, that he had built up a tolerance and was not exhibiting signs of overdose. “Mr Floyd had lived with his opioid addiction for years…he was struggling, he was not passing out.”

Prosecutors want the jurors focused on what they saw in the video. The defense will try to convince them that what appears simple is more complicated – that Mr. Floyd died of a drug overdose and an underlying health condition.

He tells jurors that the video says it all: “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide, it’s murder.”

Mr. Blackwell is talking about police training, especially the “side recovery position.” Even if officers have to restrain someone on their stomach, they are supposed to move them to their side as soon as possible.

Protesters pause at The Commons park to listen to more speeches from leaders and activists in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 8, 2021.
Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

The 12-member jury for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd includes two white men, four white women, three Black men, one Black women and two women who identify as mixed race, according to information provided by the court.

The racial makeup of the jury has been closely watched.

Mr. Chauvin is white, and Mr. Floyd was Black. The pool of potential jurors in Hennepin County is whiter than the population of Minneapolis and has grown more so during the pandemic.

But the jury will be more diverse than Minneapolis, which is 20 percent Black.

The Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure say that the alternates will be the last three jurors chosen, two white women and a white man in his 20s. Only two of them will be seated when the trial begins.

From the start, many worried that it would be impossible to seat an impartial jury in Minneapolis for a case that provoked wide-scale unrest and reverberated around the world.

Prospective jurors were asked about answers they provided on a 14-page questionnaire that asked their views on a wide range of topics including Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and whether the criminal justice system is racially discriminatory. Those who expressed opinions said they could set them aside and rule according to the evidence presented at trial.

Jury selection was set to take three weeks, and jurors that had already been chosen had to be called back and questioned again after the city announced a $27 million settlement with Mr. Floyd’s estate. Despite that delay, jury selection ended several days ahead of schedule.

An image taken from video of Jerry Blackwell.
Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

The lawyer making opening arguments for the prosecution is Jerry W. Blackwell, a lawyer who has represented a series of large companies and joined the attorney general’s office just for this case on a pro bono basis, meaning he will not be paid.

In private practice, Mr. Blackwell has represented corporations including Walmart, 3M Company and General Mills, according to the website for his firm, Blackwell Burke, which is based in Minnesota. He has defended companies against lawsuits by people who said they were injured by asbestos, benzene and other potentially harmful chemicals. He has also represented companies in cases involving claims of false advertising.

Mr. Blackwell is known for his ability to untangle complicated legal issues for jurors, the website says, which could be vital in the prosecution of Mr. Chauvin, where jurors will have to evaluate the elements of second-degree and third-degree murder.

Last June, Mr. Blackwell won a posthumous pardon for Max Mason, a Black circus worker who was wrongly convicted of rape in 1920, months after three of his colleagues were lynched as a result of the false accusations. Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general overseeing the prosecution of Mr. Chauvin, had encouraged Mr. Blackwell to apply for the pardon, and he brought him on board for the Chauvin trial a month later.

Mr. Blackwell earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1987, his website says, and was one of the founders of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for the family of George Floyd, center, addressing the news media along with other lawyers and family members outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Monday.
Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

A helicopter whirred overhead on a sunny, yet chilly and windy morning on Monday in downtown Minneapolis, where the streets were largely empty and calm ahead of the big trial.

A scrum of reporters gathered on the lawn just south of the courthouse, where members of Mr. Floyd’s family and their lawyers held a news conference ahead of opening statements. Terrence Floyd, one of Mr. Floyd’s brothers, reflected on experiencing the emotions of another high-profile police killing when Sean Bell was fatally shot in Queens, near where Terrence Floyd lived.

“To see no justice in that situation, it made me furious,” Mr. Floyd said, referring to the acquittal of all of the officers in that case. He hoped that things would be different in the case involving the death of his brother.

“They say trust the system,” he said. “Well this is your chance to show us we can trust you.”

In the distance, you could hear the faint chants of a few protesters. Several people lined up behind the Floyd family holding signs of the support.

“We got your back” and “stronger together,” the signs read.

A national guardsman paced in the distance on a balcony outside of the courthouse that overlooked the lawn. There were temporary concrete and metal barricades encircling some of the government buildings downtown, and national guard members stood alongside state police officers. There were also sand-colored armored vehicles sitting outside.

“We need to pray that America can live up to its high ideals,” said Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the Floyd family.

At 8:46 a.m., the Floyd family and supporters took a knee for over nine minutes in recognition of the approximate amount of time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

Minnesota National Guard stand guard outside the Hennepin County Government Center before the opening statement of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on March 29, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Credit…Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, began in earnest on Monday morning, commencing what is expected to be one of the most closely-followed trials in recent years.

“We’re on the record,” Judge Peter A. Cahill said at about 9 a.m. Central Time before going over a motion and the schedule with prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.

He said that court will generally begin at 8:30 a.m. each day, with discussions between the lawyers and judge over any legal issues that arise. Then the jury will be brought into the courtroom around 9:30. There will be a one-hour lunch break at 12:30 and the proceedings will generally last until 4:30 p.m., though they could be extended if it allows a witness to finish testifying.

Derek Chauvin, the former police officer, in a booking photograph at the Ramsey County Detention Center in St. Paul, Minn., last May.
Credit…Ramsey County Detention Center

Derek Chauvin had been a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for more than 19 years before George Floyd’s death. During that time, he was the subject of at least 22 complaints and internal investigations. One of the episodes led to two letters of reprimand — his only formal discipline.

Mr. Chauvin, 44, worked in one of Minneapolis’s busiest precincts on its most difficult shift, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., long after many officers his age had moved to different positions. He earned several awards, including two medals of valor after separate confrontations in which he shot at suspects, one of whom died.

Mr. Chauvin, who is white, was filmed on May 25 last year holding his knee on the neck of a Black motorist, George Floyd, for more than nine minutes as Mr. Floyd pleaded with him and repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

Mr. Chauvin was fired the next day, along with three other officers who had arrived at Cup Foods, a convenience store, after a teenage clerk called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill. In October, Mr. Chauvin was freed on bail while awaiting trial, having posted $100,000 through a bail bond agency. He was initially required to remain in Minnesota, but later was allowed to live in any of the four bordering states (Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota) because of concerns for his safety.

In the weeks after Mr. Chauvin was fired, protesters gathered at his house in the St. Paul suburbs, his wife of 10 years filed for divorce. Interviews with his acquaintances depicted him as an awkward and rigid workaholic who had a tendency to overreact.

Examples of Mr. Chauvin’s police work will most likely be presented at his trial. Prosecutors are expected to tell jurors about his arrest of a Black woman who has said that Mr. Chauvin kept his knee on her body while she was handcuffed and facedown on the ground and pleading, “Don’t kill me.”

In another interaction considered relevant, Mr. Chauvin saved a suicidal man’s life by placing him on his side and riding with him to a hospital.

The Police Department commended Mr. Chauvin for the latter action, but prosecutors have argued that it shows he knew it was important to avoid creating breathing problems for people who were restrained.







‘I Need Justice for George,’ Floyd’s Brother Says on Eve of Chauvin Trial

George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, and a family lawyer, Ben Crump, spoke in Minneapolis on Sunday night ahead of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in George Floyd’s death.

This world is divided. We need to come together. That’s the only way that we will get justice for George. Because I have a big hole right now in my heart. It can’t be patched up. No amount of money that you give, none of that, it can’t patch that. I need justice for George. We need a conviction. Murder is not murder until somebody is charged for it. So, the four officers, they all need to be held accountable. You can’t sweep this under the rug. Four police officers killed one man. He was upright and he was fine, until they put him in a prone position, face down, with his hands behind his back, with a man with his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as he took the soul of my brother’s body. As he begged for his momma, he said, tell my kids I love them. No man should have to do that. No man. We live in a world where people can perform a execution, a modern-day execution, in broad daylight. Times have got to change now. We are thankful to all the protesters, all the activists, everybody in America, everybody around the world who said, “Until we get justice for George Floyd, none of us can breathe.” Preferably at the end of this trial, we can all exhale together for George Floyd, give him the breath that was denied to him by Derek Chauvin.

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George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, and a family lawyer, Ben Crump, spoke in Minneapolis on Sunday night ahead of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in George Floyd’s death.CreditCredit…Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd Jr., urged the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin to find the former police officer guilty for his brother’s death.

“I have a big hole in my heart,” he said Sunday at a news conference. “It can’t be patched up. No amount of money that you give, none of that, can patch that. I need justice for George. We need a conviction.”

The city of Minneapolis settled a lawsuit with Mr. Floyd’s family before the trial, agreeing to pay them $27 million in connection to Mr. Floyd’s death, one of the largest such settlements on record.

The younger Floyd has been one of the most visible family members advocating for justice in his brother’s death, including testifying to Congress in July on police brutality and systemic racism. His brother was the eldest of five siblings.

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