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A 'grinding and crushing knee': Chauvin trial begins

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MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR JERRY BLACKWELL: “You will learn that on May 25th of 2020, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed his badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd.”

Opening statements in the highly-anticipated murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd last May, began Monday with the prosecution laying out what it alleges Chavin, who is white, did for over 9 minutes as Floyd, a Black man, lay on the ground, handcuffed.

“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.”

Jerry Blackwell, a prosecutor with the Minnesota attorney general's office, also played the widely-seen cell phone video taken by a bystander in which Floyd can be heard saying multiple times the phrase that has come to symbolize the Black Lives Matters movement.

[UPSOUND MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR JERRY BLACKWELL]: “I can't breathe.”

Chauvin, wearing a gray suit and, like others in the courtroom, a face mask, took pages of notes on a legal pad as the dying moans of Floyd and the yelling of horrified bystanders filled the courtroom.

Chauvin's lead defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said in his opening statement that the former officer followed his police training.

"The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing."

Chauvin and three other officers were arresting Floyd on suspicion of passing a fake $20 bill at grocery store nearby.

Nelson also used his opening statement to highlight Floyd's drug use and underlying health problems.

“The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and the adrenaline throwing -- flowing through his body."

The courtroom, in a tower in downtown Minneapolis, was ringed Monday with concrete barriers, barbed wire and soldiers from the state's National Guard.

Nearby businesses were closed and windows boarded up due to fears of arson and other property damage that occurred after Floyd's death.

The Minneapolis Police Department fired Chauvin and the three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest.

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.

Video Transcript

JERRY BLACKWELL: Because you will learn that on May 25 of 2020, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed his badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd.

- Opening statements in the highly-anticipated murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd last May, began Monday with the prosecution laying out what it alleges Chauvin, who is white, did for over nine minutes as Floyd, a Black man, lay on the ground handcuffed.

JERRY BLACKWELL: 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.

- Jerry Blackwell, a prosecutor with the Minnesota attorney general's office, also played the widely-seen cell phone video taken by a bystander in which Floyd can be heard saying multiple times the phrase that has come to symbolize the Black Lives Matter movement.

JERRY BLACKWELL: I can't breathe.

- Chauvin, wearing a gray suit, and like others in the courtroom, a face mask, took pages of notes on a legal pad as the dying moans of Floyd and the yelling of horrified bystanders filled the courtroom. Chauvin's lead defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said in his opening statement that the former officer followed his police training.

ERIC NELSON: The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing.

- Chauvin and three other officers were arresting Floyd on suspicion of passing a fake $20 bill at a grocery store nearby. Nelson also used his opening statement to highlight Floyd's drug use and underlying health problems.

ERIC NELSON: The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, his coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body.

- The courtroom, in a tower in downtown Minneapolis, was ringed Monday with concrete barriers, barbed wire and soldiers from the state's National Guard. Nearby businesses were closed and windows boarded up due to fears of arson and other property damage that occurred after Floyd's death.

The Minneapolis Police Department fired Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd's arrest. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.