Attorneys presented their opening arguments Monday morning in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer at the center of one of the most visible trials in American history.
Chauvin stands accused of murdering George Floyd last May in an incident that set off a wave of deadly riots across the country.
Jerry Blackwell, a private attorney working for the prosecution, delivered the state’s opening argument, focusing extensively on bystander video of Floyd’s death and the Minneapolis Police Department’s internal use of force policies.
“He did not let up and he did not get up” was a frequent one-liner used by Blackwell to describe Chauvin’s behavior.
Blackwell also claimed that several members of the Minneapolis Police Department, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, plan to testify against Chauvin.
Defense counsel Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lone attorney, defended his client’s use of force and focused heavily on Floyd’s drug abuse.
“The use of force is not attractive but it is a necessary component of policing,” said Nelson, who argued that the angry crowd surrounding the scene prevented the responding officers from focusing their attention on Floyd.
Nelson attempted to persuade the jury to avoid fixating on the video of Floyd’s death, noting that nearly 50,000 pieces of evidence have been collected during investigations into the incident.
“But when you review the actual evidence, and when you hear the law and apply reason and common sense, there will only be one just verdict — and that is to find Mr. Chauvin not guilty,” Nelson concluded.