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Attorneys for the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with killing George Floyd. Watch highlights of the entire trial.
STEVE SCHLEICHER: 9 minutes and 29 seconds. 9 minutes and 29 seconds. During this time, George Floyd struggled, desperate to breathe. To make enough room in his chest to breathe.
But the force was too much. He was-- he was trapped. He was trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down. Pushing him, a knee to the neck, a knee to the back, twisting his fingers, holding his legs for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. The defendant's weight on him.
George Floyd's final words on May 25, 2020 were "Please, I can't breathe." And he said those words to Mr. Officer. He said those words to the defendant.
George Floyd was not a threat to anyone. He wasn't trying to hurt anyone. He wasn't trying to do anything to anyone. Facing George Floyd that day, that did not require one ounce of courage. And none was shown.
All that was required was a little compassion. Imagining a police officer committing a crime might be the most difficult thing you have to set aside. Because that's just not the way we think of police officers. We trust the police. We trust the police to help us.
We believe the police are going to respond to our call for help. We believe they're going to listen to us. He didn't follow training, those hundreds of hours of training that he had. He did not follow the department's use of force rules. He did not perform CPR. He knew better, he just didn't do better.
This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first. When you saw that video, it is exactly that. You can believe your eyes. It's exactly what you believed. It's exactly what you saw with your eyes, it's exactly what you knew.
It's what you felt in your gut, it's what you now know in your heart. This wasn't policing, this was murder.
ERIC NELSON: The state has really focused on the 9 minutes and 29 seconds. 9 minutes and 29 seconds. 9 minutes and 29 seconds. It's not the proper analysis. Because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds. It completely disregards it.
It says, in that moment, at that point, nothing else that happened before should be taken into consideration by a reasonable police officer. It tries to reframe the issue of what a reasonable police officer would do. A reasonable police officer would, in fact, take into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds.
Their experience with the subject. The struggle that they had. The comparison of the words to actions. It all comes into play. Why? Because human behavior is unpredictable.
Human behavior is unpredictable, and nobody knows it better than a police officer. So the best glimpse that we're going to get into the training of a Minneapolis police officer comes from the trainer who conducts the training. He said the knee on the neck is not an unauthorized move. And it can be utilized in certain circumstances.
He described using a knee on the neck and back and stated that it can be there for an extended period of time, depending on the level of resistance you get. You have to take into account that officers are human beings, capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations.
In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force. As unattractive as it may be. All of the evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought he was following his training.
He was trained this way. It all demonstrates a lack of intent. We have to look at the cause of death to determine, did Mr. Floyd die exclusively of asphyxia? Or, were there other contributing factors that were not the natural result of Mr. Chauvin's acts?
JERRY BLACKWELL: You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died-- that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that testimony. And now, having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small.
PETER CAHILL: The decision whether or not to testify-- let me take this off-- is entirely yours. In other words, it's a personal right. Mr. Nelson makes a lot of the decisions in trial. But one he cannot make for you is whether or not you testify.
And he can give you advice, and you can take that advice or reject that advice. But the decision ultimately has to be yours and not his. Is this your decision not to testify?
DEREK CHAUVIN: It is, Your Honor.
PETER CAHILL: All right. Do you have any questions about your right to remain silent or to testify on your own behalf?
DEREK CHAUVIN: Not at this time I don't.
LINDSEY THOMAS: This is a death where both the heart and lungs stopped working. And the point is that it's due to law enforcement subdual restraint and compression.
JERRY BLACKWELL: Did you rule out drug overdose as a cause of death?
LINDSEY THOMAS: Yes.
JERRY BLACKWELL: And that's an opinion you hold to a reasonable degree of medical certainty?
LINDSEY THOMAS: Yes.
MARTIN TOBIN: The cause of death is a low level of oxygen that caused the brain damage and caused the heart to stop. And they're pushing the handcuffs into his back and pushing them high. Then, on the other side, you have the street. So the street is playing a crucial part, because he's against the hard, asphalt street
So the way they're pushing down on his handcuffs combined with the street, his left side-- and it's particularly the left side, we see that-- it's like the left side is in a vise. It's totally being pushed in, squeezed in from each side. Yes, a healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to.
ERIC NELSON: I'm going to ask you, sir, to listen to Mr. Floyd's voice.
GEORGE FLOYD (RECORDED): Aha. I [INAUDIBLE].
ERIC NELSON: Did you hear that?
JAMES RYERSON: Yes, I did.
ERIC NELSON: Did it appear that Mr. Floyd said, "I ate too many drugs?"
JAMES RYERSON: Yes, it did.
MATTHEW FRANK: Having heard it in context, are you able to tell what Mr. Floyd is saying there?
JAMES RYERSON: Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd was saying, "I ain't do no drugs."
MATTHEW FRANK: So it's a little different than what you were asked about when you only saw a portion of the video, correct?
JAMES RYERSON: Yes, sir.
ERIC NELSON: So you would agree the general concept is sometimes the use of force, it looks really bad, right?
JODY STIGER: Yes.
ERIC NELSON: And sometimes it may be so-- it may be caught on video, right?
JODY STIGER: Yes.
ERIC NELSON: And it looks bad, right?
JODY STIGER: Yes.
ERIC NELSON: But it's still lawful?
JODY STIGER: Yes, based on that department's policies or based on that state's law.
STEVE SCHLEICHER: To be lawful, the force must be objectively reasonable, correct?
JODY STIGER: Correct.
STEVE SCHLEICHER: But if it's not objectively reasonable, and it's not lawful, then it's just awful.
JODY STIGER: Correct.
STEVE SCHLEICHER: Nothing further.
JODY STIGER: My opinion was that the force was excessive. Once he was placed in the prone position on the ground, he slowly ceased his resistance. And at that point, the officers-- ex-officers I should say-- they should have slowed down or stopped their force as well.
STEVE SCHLEICHER: Is this a MPD authorized restraint technique?
JOHNNY MERCIL: Knee on the neck would be something that does happen in use of force that isn't unauthorized.
STEVE SCHLEICHER: And under what circumstances would that be authorized? How long can you do that?
JOHNNY MERCIL: I don't know if there's a time frame. It would depend on the circumstances of the time.
STEVE SCHLEICHER: Which would include what?
JOHNNY MERCIL: The type of resistance you're getting from the subject that you're putting a knee on.
JERRY BLACKWELL: You will see that Mr. Chauvin is kneeling on Mr. Floyd's neck and back. You will hear his final words when he says, "I can't breathe." Before that time, you'll hear his voice get heavier.
You will hear his words further apart. You will see that his respiration gets shallower and shallower and finally stops when he speaks his last words, "I can't breathe."
ERIC NELSON: The evidence will show that when confronted by police Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth in an effort to conceal them from the police. When you see these videos, pulled back from afar, you will be able to see the Minneapolis Police squad car rocking back and forth, rocking back and forth during this struggle.
So much so that it catches the attention of the 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry. This was not an easy struggle. They're called names. You heard them this morning. A [BLEEP] bum.
They're screaming at him, causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them. And you will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been 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.
- It shows pride for policing. [INAUDIBLE].