The two sides in one among the nation’s most closely watched police brutality trials returned one last time to the graphic video of George Floyd’s final moments on Monday, with the prosecution asking jurors to “believe your eyes” and therefore the defense warning them to not be “misled” by a freeze-frame view.
After 14 days of testimony from policing experts, medical doctors, members of the Minneapolis local department and bystanders, lawyers made their closing arguments, urging the jurors to use sense because the case was placed in their hands.
“This case is strictly what you thought once you saw it first, once you saw that video,” said Steve Schleicher, the prosecutor who delivered the closing argument. “It’s what you felt in your gut. It’s what you now know in your heart.”
In a lengthy rebuttal, the defense emphasized the 17 minutes leading up thereto time — suggesting that Floyd had taken illicit drugs and had actively resisted when several officers tried to urge him into a cruiser . Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, repeatedly told jurors to seem at the “totality of the circumstances.”
“Do not let yourselves be misled by one still-frame image,” Nelson told the jury, in response to the moment-by-moment analyses of video evidence presented by the prosecution. “Put the evidence in its proper context.”
The closing arguments were persisted the 18th floor of a building surrounded by temporary fencing and military sentries. The high security couldn't exclude the tremors from last week’s fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright just 10 miles away.Gov. Tim Walz involved calm on Monday because the jury began deliberations. He declared a “peacetime emergency” to permit the police from neighboring states to be called in if necessary, joining quite 3,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen who are deployed to help local enforcement .
“Local and state resources are fully deployed, but they're inadequate to deal with the threat,” Walz said in an executive order.Schools will move to remote learning later in the week , and businesses are boarded up due to the potential for unrest following a verdict.
The fatal shooting of Wright, a 20-year-old Black man , during a suburb called Brooklyn Center has cast a shadow over the proceedings.After the jury left to start deliberating, Nelson asked for a mistrial, saying that comments by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., amounted to threats and intimidation. While visiting Brooklyn Center, Waters told protesters that they ought to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin were acquitted.
Judge Peter A. Cahill denied the request, but said, “I’ll offer you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal which will end in this whole trial being overturned.”Cahill served as a top deputy for Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator, when she was the county prosecutor, and was first appointed to the bench by a Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty. The judge has won reelection several times in nonpartisan races.
The trauma of Floyd’s death, captured on video, became a clarion involve increased police accountability nationwide. At an equivalent time, it had been felt deeply and personally in Minneapolis, which still bears the scars of the rioting and arson that followed.Inside the courtroom on Monday, lawyers made their final appeals to the jury of seven women and five men, who are going to be sequestered during a hotel for his or her deliberations.
Chauvin, 45, who spent 19 years as a Minneapolis policeman , was fired immediately after Floyd’s death, along side three other officers involved. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, which carries a penalty of up to 40 years in prison, and therefore the lesser charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The three other officers are scheduled to be tried together in August.In-person attendance has been strictly limited throughout the trial due to COVID-19, with one spectator seat reserved for every side. On Monday morning, Floyd’s brother Philonise, who gave emotional testimony about his brother earlier within the trial, was within the Floyd family seat, later followed by a nephew, and an unidentified woman was within the Chauvin family seat.
Schleicher, speaking for the state, emphasized George Floyd’s humanity, saying that he had been compliant until he was forced to urge into the cruiser , which he had pleaded for help, calling Chauvin “Mister Officer.” But, Schleicher said, Mister Officer didn't help.
Speaking for fewer than two hours, Schleicher tried to tailor his appeal for those jurors who expressed favorable views of the police during the jury selection process. “The defendant is unproved not for being a policeman — it’s not the state versus the police,” Schleicher said. “He’s not unproved for who he was. He’s unproved for what he did.”
He said that numerous witnesses said Chauvin had violated police training and policy when he pinned Floyd facedown and kept him pinned long after he lost consciousness.“This wasn’t policing, this was murder,” Schleicher said. “The defendant is guilty of all three counts. All of them. And there’s no excuse.”
The defense attorney , Nelson, took a really different approach, covering a good range of ground during a statement that took almost three hours, during which Chauvin removed his mask and paused the steady note-taking he had maintained throughout the trial.
Nelson showered jurors with what he said were discrepancies within the prosecution’s case, hoping to plant a seed of reasonable doubt with a minimum of one among the 12.He argued that there have been significant questions on a minimum of two key issues: whether Chauvin’s actions were allowed under Minneapolis local department policies and whether Chauvin had caused Floyd’s death.
Nelson emphasized the various factors that “a reasonable police officer” must consider, including whether the topic is intoxicated, whether he's resisting and whether onlookers pose a threat. for instance the judgment calls involved, he said that every of the prosecution’s many use-of-force experts had pinpointed a special moment at which Chauvin’s use of force became unreasonable.
“Officer Chauvin had no intent to purposefully use — he didn't purposefully use unlawful force,” he said. “These are officers doing their job during a highly stressful situation, consistent with their training, consistent with the policies of the Minneapolis local department . And it’s tragic. It’s tragic.”
He showed a video clip of the instant it appears that Floyd took his last breath, saying that at an equivalent time, Chauvin was drawing his mace in response to the bystanders trying to intervene, and was startled by the approach of an emergency medical technician who happened upon the scene and offered to assist .
While Nelson read from police policies warning that crowds were unpredictable, prosecutors mentioned the bystanders as a “bouquet of humanity” and said fate had randomly selected them — much the way the jurors were selected — to witness what they called a “shocking abuse of authority.”
One of the most questions for the jury to make a decision is whether or not Chauvin’s actions were a “substantial causal factor” of Floyd’s death.“The incontrovertible fact that other causes contribute to the death doesn't relieve the defendant of criminal liability,” Cahill told the jury.
Nelson barely mentioned the defense experts who testified, but he tried to take advantage of the very fact that the prosecution called numerous doctors , saying that there have been discrepancies among their findings. He said that heart condition , hypertension and other preexisting conditions, also as Floyd’s use of fentanyl and methamphetamine, were significant contributors to his death.
“It is nonsense to suggest that none of those other factors had any role,” he said. “That isn't reasonable.”On rebuttal, Jerry Blackwell, speaking for the state, said Floyd had lived for 17,026 days without dying from his drug use or preexisting conditions, which he represented as a field of blue dots with a yellow arrow pointing to the ultimate one.
He sought to dispel confusion about the explanation for death: “You don’t need a Ph.D., you don’t need an M.D. to know how fundamental breathing is to life.”
Blackwell said the notion that there have been “two sides to each story” was “one of the foremost dangerous things” about the look for truth. “If it's a story, meaning there are often multiple sides to the story and there could never be a truth or reality,” he said, “except that what we’re about here is going to the reality , and not simply stories.”Blackwell ended with a final attack on one among the defense’s arguments about the explanation for death, that Floyd had an cardiomegaly .
“You were told, for instance , that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big,” Blackwell said. “And the reality of the matter is that the rationale George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
(News source The Indian Express)