It’s been 10 months since the murder of George Floyd.
The criminal trial for the former Minneapolis Police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, ultimately killing him, started today (March 29).
“Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd,” prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell said in the opening statements. “That he 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.”
The death of Floyd launched a summer of nationwide unrest, Black Lives Matter protests, and a societal reckoning where America began to come to terms with its history of disregard for Black lives.
45-year-old Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges.
During the opening statement, Blackwell explained that the time that Chauvin spent kneeled on Floyd’s neck was actually 9 minutes and 29 seconds, an update on the initial report of 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The prosecuting attorney spent the first few moments of the trial focused on Floyd’s final breaths and the video that circulated throughout the media last summer. The footage was played for jurors in its entirety.
“This case is not about split-second decision-making,” said Blackwell.
Attorney Eric Nelson defended his client’s actions as “proper training.”
“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career,” said Nelson. “The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing.”
He also focused on Floyd’s alleged use of fentanyl and methamphetamine and his resistance to the arresting officers.
For the first-time-ever in Minnesota, the trial will be broadcast live in its entirety for the public to view.
For More On George Floyd: