National Post (Latest Edition)

’Believe your eyes,’ prosecutor tells jury

- Jonathan allen

• Prosecutor­s told jurors to “believe your eyes” as they replayed video of George Floyd’s death last May beneath the knee of Derek Chauvin in closing arguments on Monday before jurors began deliberati­ng whether the former police officer was guilty of murder.

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.

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 in remarks that lasted nearly two hours that the jury was weighing the guilt of only one man, not a system.

“This wasn’t policing; this was murder,” Schleicher told jurors. He cited the motto of the Minneapoli­s Police Department, which fired Chauvin and three other officers after Floyd’s arrest: “To protect with courage and to serve with compassion.”

“Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage, and none was shown on that day,” Schleicher said, often speaking with audible anger and disgust. “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 where he had been suspected of buying cigarettes with a fake $20 bill.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill gave the jury final instructio­ns before they left the courtroom at 4 p.m. to begin their deliberati­ons. Jurors will be sequestere­d in a hotel outside of deliberati­on hours.

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentio­nal murder, third-degree “depraved mind” murder and second-degree manslaught­er. Nelson, his lawyer, said prosecutor­s were wrong to dismiss his theory that carbon monoxide poisoning from the nearby police car’s exhaust and Floyd’s use of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller, may have contribute­d to Floyd’s death. He repeated a single phrase scores of times, saying Chauvin behaved as a “reasonable police officer” would in dealing with Floyd, who was struggling against being put in a police car when Chauvin arrived.

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Derek Chauvin

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