George Floyd tells police officer ‘please don’t shoot me’
Derek Chauvin, 45, was accused of “betraying” his badge as he used “excessive force” on Floyd in Minneapolis last May. On the first day of Chauvin’s murder trial, the jury was shown footage that led to violent demonstrations across America amid claims of institutional racism. The protests spread across the world as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. As a sign of solidarity, Floyd’s family took the knee outside the Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis yesterday.
Terrence Floyd, the deceased’s brother, said of the trial: “They say trust the system, well this is your chance to show us that we can trust you.”
Opening the trial, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said: “You can believe your eyes. That it’s homicide, it’s murder.”
The lawyer said Chauvin “didn’t let up, he didn’t get up” even after Floyd said 27 times that he could not breathe.
He added: “[Chauvin] put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath, no ladies and gentlemen, until the very life, was squeezed out of him.”
Chauvin kept applying pressure on Floyd’s neck after he was warned no pulse could be found, the court heard, even as paramedics laid out a stretcher.
The jury was shown harrowing footage of Floyd begging for Chauvin to let him breathe as witnesses shouted at the police officer.
Floyd can be heard crying out as the accused adjusted his position to continue pressing down.
Derek Chauvin was accused of ‘betraying’ his badge as he used ‘excessive force’ on Floyd
Bystanders were heard shouting: “You have got him down, let him breathe”, “His nose is bleeding” and “How long y’all going to hold him down?”
Floyd grunts: “I can’t breathe.”
A bystander says of and to Chauvin: “He is enjoying this. You are enjoying this. He is not even resisting arrest. You are stopping his breathing.”
The only words Chauvin said during the video were: “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.”
Mr Blackwell said that Chauvin, who was fired by the police, “betrayed his badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force on the body of George Floyd” by “grinding and crushing him until the very breath…was squeezed out of him”.
“This is not about all police. This case is about Mr Derek Chauvin. This case is not about split-second decision-making. Nine minutes and 29 seconds… not a split second among them.”
Chauvin’s lead attorney, Eric Nelson, argued that his client followed his training and that the main cause of Floyd’s death, which the county examiner ruled a homicide, was a drug overdose.
Mr Nelson said a chaotic scene during the arrest ended up “causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr Floyd”.
Ben Crump, left, and Rev AI Sharpton, centre, take the knee
He told the court: “Derek Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do over the course of his 19-year career. The use of force is not attractive but it is a necessary component of policing.”
Mr Nelson claimed Floyd had swallowed drugs and struggled with officers during his arrest.
The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, is being seen by many as a pivotal moment in US race relations.
Civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton and attorney Ben Crump joined the family for a press briefing before entering the courtroom.
Mr Crump said: “This is a landmark moment in American history. This is the moment to show the rest of the world that you are the standard-bearer when it comes to liberty and justice to all.”
Philonise Floyd, Floyd’s brother, indicated the family was feeling confident about the trial, although it is rare for a policeman who has killed a civilian to be arrested and charged. He said: “He killed my brother in broad daylight, it was a modern-day lynching.”
Derek Chauvin, right, listens in court yesterday on the opening day of his trial
Family and friends held a vigil and prayer service on Sunday.
Terrence Floyd said: “We are [a] God-fearing family, we’re church people. We’re asking the system for the justice.”
Philonise added: “I have a big hole right now in my heart. It can’t be patched up…I need justice for George. We need a conviction.”
George Floyd bought a pack of cigarettes at a store in Minneapolis on the evening of May 25, 2020.
A shop assistant believed he had used a counterfeit $20 note and called the police after the father of five refused to give the cigarettes back.
Chauvin is one of four officers to stand trial for the killing.
He is facing the most serious charges, including second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.
The case continues.