Derek Chauvin is on the dock and faces up to 40 years in prison. Audience started three days ago with the screening of the famous video “I can’t breathe”.
“Nine-two-nine”: this is how US prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, in court, turned to jurors, opened on Monday, March 29, 2021, the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin, of Minneapolis. Chauvin, who has since been fired from the police, is accused of killing, by excessive use of force, the African-American George Floyd, 46, on May 25, 2020. “929 are, ladies and gentlemen, the three most important numbers in this case “, he repeated.
The prosecutor refers to the length of the video (9 minutes and 29 seconds) showing Chauvin, who is white, immobilizing George Floyd on the floor of a Minneapolis street. Floyd is facedown, sprawled on the ground, face pressed against the asphalt, and the policeman’s knees are impetuously pressing his neck and back. In the video, made by a spectator of the scene, Floyd is heard saying the famous phrase “I can’t breathe” (“I can’t breathe”) and repeat it 27 times.
Floyd can still be heard calling several times for his mother, who has already died, and asking “tell my children that I love them”. And yet: “My stomach hurts! My neck hurts! Everything hurts! Stop! I can’t breathe!” In the video you can also hear the altered and angry voices of several people who gathered there and begged Derek Chauvin to stop it.
But the now ex-police, who awaited trial on probation after paying a million-dollar bail, did not stop. And George Floyd died right there, stifled and trampled by the police.
Perspective of 40 years in prison
Chauvin now faces three major charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and murder. If convicted on the most serious charge, he faces up to 40 years in prison.
Three other Minneapolis municipal security officers, also already dismissed, also participated in the violence and death scene, albeit in a passive way – controlled the perimeter and removed viewers, ensuring that no one approached the scene of the events. At no time will they have prevented Chauvin from continuing his violent actions. They will be tried together later, but later this year.
It is recalled, however, that George Floyd’s family has already received $ 27 million in damages, the highest ever in the United States on the death of a black man, and has dropped the complaint against Minneapolis County.
Floyd bought tobacco with fake note
The Derek Chauvin trial began with prosecutors showing the famous video to the court. Other images were also shown, including a short video prior to that scene, in which George Floyd is seen entering a Cup Foods convenience store in southern Minneapolis to buy tobacco.
The employee who served him was heard in court on Wednesday. Christopher Martin, 19, said he remembered Floyd well because “he was a big man” and that they had had a long talk about sports. He also said that Floyd’s way of speaking was coarse. “It looked like he was on drugs,” he said. And then he confirmed that Floyd bought tobacco with a $ 20 bill, which seemed to him to be a fake bill, but that he still accepted it, sold him the packet of tobacco and gave him change. Then he called the police, who then arrested George Floyd, who in the meantime was already inside the car parked nearby.
Floyd was on drugs
George Floyd’s official autopsy showed that he had consumed opioids, which are tranquilizers, and meth, which is a stimulant, before he died.
Chauvin’s defense lawyers maintain that police use of force “was reasonable” because Floyd was under the influence of drugs. And that “drugs contributed to Floyd’s death”.
The prosecution’s prosecution acknowledges the use of the two drugs, but underlined that this consumption did not justify, at all, that policeman Derek Chauvin abused the force and continued to press his knees on Floyd’s neck and body, since the man sprawled on the floor said repeatedly that he could not breathe. He pointed out that the use of drugs was not the cause of death. And he underlined: “It is not George Floyd who is here on trial, it is Derek Chauvin”.
“Have you ever seen someone being killed in front of you?”
According to the report by the newspaper “The Guardian”, which is accompanying the trial, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter who was on leave, was heard, was passing by and stayed at see the scene of violence. She was reportedly prevented by the four policemen from providing medical assistance to Floyd, despite having repeatedly requested it.
Police Chauvin’s defense tried to characterize the firefighter as part of an “angry mob that threatened the police several times”.
When asked, firefighter Genevieve acknowledged that she did not show her identification card that proves that she has medical skills, but stressed that she “begged several times” for Chauvin, and for the other policemen, to let her help Floyd because it seemed “he I was suffocating and I was going to die, as otherwise happened “.
Genevieve says he was not really angry until he realized that Floyd was already dead “and that there was no point in trying to argue with the cops because they just killed a person”.
When police officer Chauvin’s defense urged the fire department to agree that she and others in the crowd were “acting and shouting angrily,” Genevieve fell silent for a second, swallowed, and then said, “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen anyone being dead in front of you, but it is a very disturbing scene, as you imagine “.
Witnesses distressed in court
Court sessions have been distressing, reports the newspaper “The Guardian”. In these first three days, several witnesses to the African American man’s detention, assault and death scene wept and said they felt guilty for not being able to help and save Floyd. And they explained that his anger was not a threat to the police, but a demand for action to help Floyd while he begged for life.
The jury was shown several other videos recorded by witnesses in which loud and angry voices can be heard, but none of these videos show any threat to the security of the four policemen.
The prosecutor’s office is trying to elaborate the thesis of a group of policemen, led by Chauvin, who were atrociously indifferent to George Floyd’s suffering and the danger he was in for a very long and very agonizing period of time.
The judgment continues.
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