‘Believe Your Eyes,’ Prosecution Says After Defense Makes Its Final Case

Testimony has concluded in Mr. Chauvin’s trial, but the prosecution and the defense still have a chance to sway jurors. Here’s the latest from the trial.,

LiveUpdated April 19, 2021, 4:45 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:45 p.m. ET

In closing arguments, the defense said there was “no evidence” that Mr. Chauvin “intentionally, purposefully applied an unlawful force” against George Floyd. The prosecution argued, “This was not policing” and “it was unnecessary.”

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Watch live video of closing arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. Warning: The video may include graphic images.CreditCredit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times
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April 19, 2021, 4:43 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:43 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

One reason that the prosecution has emphasized many times that a 9-year-old girl was present at George Floyd’s death — in addition to her being a compelling witness when she took the stand — is that the state is asking for a higher prison sentence for Derek Chauvin if he is convicted. For that to happen, the jury will have to agree on aggravating factors, one of which is that the crime was committed in front of children.

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April 19, 2021, 4:37 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:37 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyer spent most of his time talking about what a “reasonable officer” would have done in the situation that his client found himself in. I haven’t heard Jerry Blackwell address that yet in his rebuttal, but it would seem to be an important point for him to respond to.

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April 19, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Blackwell does address an elephant in the room when it comes to the defense argument that George Floyd might have been poisoned by carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the police squad car that he was being restrained next to. He suggests that it would not be a reasonable use of force for a police officer to hold a suspect’s head by a tailpipe.

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April 19, 2021, 4:32 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:32 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

What Jerry Blackwell seems to be doing very effectively is appealing to the jurors’ sensibilities. The prosecutor showed a photo of Derek Chauvin’s face as he knelt on George Floyd’s neck and asked if that looked like someone who was afraid. And then he showed a photo of Floyd while an officer pointed a gun at his face, and said that was the face of someone who is afraid.

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April 19, 2021, 4:32 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:32 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Blackwell called the bystanders who watched helplessly as George Floyd died a “bouquet of humanity.” He attacked the argument that Chauvin was fearful of them, saying that it was Chauvin who had all the power — the one with the guns and badge and mace.

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April 19, 2021, 4:22 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:22 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

In an effort to appeal to the jury’s common sense, Jerry Blackwell, the proscutor, uses a graphic with 17,026 teal dots, one representing every day that George Floyd was alive. Blackwell said that Floyd lived with all of his pre-existing conditions on each of those days, except for May 25 of last year, when Derek Chauvin used “deadly force” on him.

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April 19, 2021, 4:14 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:14 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Unlike during prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s argument this morning, which he was able to spend time crafting, Jerry Blackwell in rebuttal has to mostly respond directly to things that the defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, said. So while he could certainly prepare and anticipate what Nelson would likely say, he also had to listen closely to Nelson’s long closing and tailor his rebuttal to what he was hearing.

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April 19, 2021, 4:18 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:18 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Blackwell gives a direct rebuttal to Nelson’s misstatement of the law on cause of death. Nelson had said that prosecutors needed to prove that Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck was the only factor in his death, and that drugs and Floyd’s heart condition played no part. Again, the law says Chauvin’s use of force had to be a “substantial causal factor,” not the only factor, for the jury to convict him.

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April 19, 2021, 4:14 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:14 p.m. ET
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The defense in the Derek Chauvin trial, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, argued in its closing statements that the jury must prove Mr. Chauvin was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

The lawyer for Derek Chauvin argued on Monday that the former officer had acted reasonably when he knelt on George Floyd for more than nine minutes, imploring jurors to also consider the moments before officers took Mr. Floyd to the ground as they begin to debate whether to convict or acquit Mr. Chauvin.

Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, said in his closing argument that there was much more to the case than the moments that had been captured on a cellphone video and seen by the world. Mr. Nelson argued that there was at least reasonable doubt about two vital issues: whether Mr. Chauvin’s actions were allowed under Minneapolis Police Department policies and whether Mr. Chauvin had caused Mr. Floyd’s death. Jurors must believe that prosecutors have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict.

The prosecution made its closing argument earlier on Monday, and another prosecutor will have a chance to rebut Mr. Nelson’s argument later in the day, after which the 12 jurors who have listened to three weeks of testimony will begin to deliberate over a verdict. They must be unanimous to convict Mr. Chauvin of any of the three charges he faces: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

For nearly three hours, Mr. Nelson focused on Mr. Chauvin’s decision-making and on what factors may have caused Mr. Floyd’s death. He emphasized that the jury instructions say that no crime has been committed if a police officer was justified in using reasonable force and that jurors should determine what is justified by considering what “a reasonable police officer in the same situation would believe to be necessary.”

Determining what is necessary, Mr. Nelson argued, requires paying close attention to the moments before officers put Mr. Floyd face down on the ground, when they tried to get a handcuffed Mr. Floyd into the back of a police car, which he resisted, saying he was claustrophobic. Prosecutors have repeatedly noted the exact amount of time — nine minutes and 29 seconds — that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd, but Mr. Nelson said that was but one piece of evidence.

“It’s not the proper analysis, because the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said. He added: “A reasonable police officer would, in fact, take into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds.”

Mr. Nelson has argued throughout the trial that a group of bystanders who were yelling for officers to get off Mr. Floyd and check his pulse had actually taken officers’ attention away from Mr. Floyd’s declining health. On Monday, he highlighted the moment in which experts have said Mr. Floyd took his last breath, pointing out that at the same time, an off-duty firefighter and another bystander had moved closer to Mr. Chauvin, prompting the officer to pull out his mace.

“Human beings make decisions in highly-stressful situations that they believe to be right in the very moment it is occurring,” Mr. Nelson said.

Mr. Nelson also criticized the prosecutors’ medical experts, many of whom had testified that Mr. Chauvin’s actions were the main cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, saying their testimony “flies in the absolute face of reason and common sense.” He particularly singled out the testimony of Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who he said had selectively chosen screenshots that clouded the context of full videos.

“Do not let yourselves be misled by a single still frame image,” Mr. Nelson said. “Put the evidence in its proper context.”

Mr. Nelson said he was not arguing that Mr. Floyd had died of an overdose, but that jurors must consider a broad range of factors about what could have caused Mr. Floyd’s death, including the poor health of his heart and the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system.

Mr. Nelson said that when jurors considered all of the evidence, they would conclude that prosecutors have not reached their burden.

“The state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore Mr. Chauvin should be found not guilty of all counts,” he said.

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April 19, 2021, 4:10 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:10 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Jerry Blackwell, who provided opening statements for the prosecution three weeks ago, is now giving the state’s rebuttal. “Ultimately, it isn’t really that complicated,” he says. And again, he repeats, “You can believe your eyes.”

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April 19, 2021, 4:11 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:11 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

The question of common sense is a central theme here, with both sides arguing that common sense is on its side. Blackwell tells jurors that “common sense” is the 46th witness that will go with them into deliberations.

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April 19, 2021, 4:01 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:01 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

After Eric Nelson finishes his closing argument for the defense, Judge Peter Cahill excuses the jury for five minutes so the lawyers can argue over a legal matter.

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April 19, 2021, 4:08 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 4:08 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

The two sides were arguing about how Eric Nelson described the intent that the state needs to prove in respect to third-degree assault, which is the foundation for the second-degree murder charge. Judge Cahill says prosecutor Jerry Blackwell can address it in his rebuttal, which is starting now, but he did advise the jury that they should follow the instructions he read and not necessarily how the lawyers describe it in their closings.

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April 19, 2021, 3:58 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:58 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

This didn’t come up much at trial, but Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, is talking now about the delayed efforts by paramedics to administer CPR to George Floyd and questioning why they didn’t give him Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. It’s another way to try and raise reasonable doubt about whether Derek Chauvin’s actions caused Floyd’s death.

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April 19, 2021, 3:45 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:45 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Two key points from the lunch-break legal commentary on local television here in Minneapolis: One, as I pointed out earlier, defense laywer Eric Nelson seemed to have misstated the law by implying that the state needs to prove that Derek Chauvin’s actions were the sole cause of George Floyd’s death, and that other things like drug use and a heart condition did not play a role. To convict, the jury needs to find that Chauvin’s use of force was a “substantial causal factor,” and some lawyers were surprised that the prosecution didn’t object.

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April 19, 2021, 3:45 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:45 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Second point: A number of experts pointed out how rare it is for a judge to interrupt a closing argument to have a lunch break. Some said they had never seen that happen before.

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April 19, 2021, 3:44 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:44 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

We are back after the brief lunch break, and defense laywer Eric Nelson is resuming his closing, which has already run for two and a half hours.

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April 19, 2021, 3:11 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:11 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

And just like that, Judge Cahill cuts into Eric Nelson’s closing for a 30-minute lunch break for the jury.

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April 19, 2021, 3:12 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:12 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from Minneapolis

The interruption comes as Derek Chauvin’s lawyer reaches the two hour and 30 minute mark of his closing argument, with no end in sight. The prosecutors’ closing argument lasted less than two hours, though they will also have a chance to rebut Nelson’s arguments once he is done.

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April 19, 2021, 3:07 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:07 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

With this pace of closing arguments, I wonder if the jury will even start deliberating today. There will likely be a lunch break before the prosecution gives its rebuttal, and then there will be more jury instructions read by Judge Cahill.

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April 19, 2021, 3:08 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:08 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

You really do have to wonder about the scheduling here. It’s after 2 p.m. local time, and there has not been a lunch break. I’ve been able to snack here in my hotel room watching this, but I don’t think the jurors can do the same. And not even a bathroom break for the last two and a half hours, while Eric Nelson has been giving his closing argument. They never went two straight hours during the trial without a break. Seems very difficult.

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April 19, 2021, 3:01 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:01 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, brings up George Floyd’s drug use during his closing argument but insists it’s not a character issue, pushing back on what activists have criticized as an attack on Floyd’s character. He acknowledges the opioid epidemic in America, saying, “It is a true crisis this country is facing.”

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April 19, 2021, 3:05 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 3:05 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

One thing that has stood out to me is Nelson’s insistence that the state has said drugs or Floyd’s health issues played no role in his death. But under the law, other factors that contributed to the death don’t absolve Derek Chauvin of culpability. The jury has to find that Chauvin’s actions were only a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death, not that other factors did not play a role.

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April 19, 2021, 2:54 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:54 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, is attacking the person who was perhaps the prosecution’s most engaging medical witness, Dr. Martin Tobin, saying that at the moment that Dr. Tobin said George Floyd was using his fingertips and knuckles as leverage to breathe, he was actually in the side recovery position, which should have allowed him to breathe. “You cannot take an isolated single frame and reach any conclusions,” he says.

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April 19, 2021, 2:56 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:56 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

He is also attacking another point in Dr. Tobin’s analysis: The moment he saw Derek Chauvin’s boot tip lift off the ground, increasing the weight on Floyd. Nelson says it maybe lasted a fraction of a second.

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April 19, 2021, 2:56 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:56 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

This is part of the job of a lawyer, to point jurors to those small things that they might otherwise miss. Nelson also made the point here that the knuckle push happened shortly after Floyd was taken to the ground, suggesting that he could not really have been struggling for air already at that point.

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April 19, 2021, 2:52 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:52 p.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Eric Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, said in his closing arguments that Mr. Chauvin did not mean to hurt George Floyd, pointing out that the arresting officers called for an ambulance twice while holding Mr. Floyd down.

All of the evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought he was following his training. He was, in fact, following his training. He was following Minneapolis police department policies. He was trained this way. It all demonstrates a lack of intent. There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied an unlawful force.

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April 19, 2021, 2:46 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:46 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Just one example of how the local medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, presented a problem for the prosecution: He said he did not watch the bystander video before performing the autopsy of George Floyd because he did not want to be biased, and he found no evidence of asphyxia, two things that Derek Chauvin’s defense just cited. But Dr. Baker did watch the video after the autopsy, before determining the cause of death, as virtually any medical examiner would have — the video, many forensic pathologists told me, is medically relevant, precisely because evidence of asphyxia often does not show up during autopsies.

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April 19, 2021, 2:37 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:37 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

If you’re finding the defense argument hard to follow, you’re not alone. Both sides have been long-winded, but it is in Derek Chauvin’s best interest to ask the jury to determine the relevancy of multiple possible factors in George Floyd’s death — the more the better.

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April 19, 2021, 2:30 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:30 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

“It’s tragic. It’s tragic,” the defense attorney, Eric Nelson, says. That’s the first we have heard from Derek Chauvin’s side any empathy about how this all ended.

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April 19, 2021, 2:26 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:26 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Defense attorney Eric Nelson asks if an officer would apply an unlawful use of force knowing that there are multiple video cameras filming him. But the public sees videos of police officers behaving in disrespectful, devastating and even fatal ways virtually every day.

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April 19, 2021, 2:27 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:27 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Would Derek Chauvin purposefully have done something that he knew was unlawful when he knew he was being filmed? One argument of activists is that body cameras don’t work because officers may not care if they are filmed — because they rarely get punished.

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April 19, 2021, 2:22 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:22 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

“Officers are human beings capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations,” defense attorney Eric Nelson says. It sounds like an attempt to tell the jurors that even if they think Derek Chauvin was wrong, it may have been a mistake. That speaks more to manslaughter than murder. (Chauvin is charged with both.)

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April 19, 2021, 2:20 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:20 p.m. ET

Although this trial is the first in Minnesota history to be televised, Judge Peter A. Cahill has placed strict restrictions on what the cameras can capture. There have been no close-ups during dramatic moments and no shots of the jurors.

Two members of the news media are allowed in the courtroom at any given time, and there is room for only one member of Mr. Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s.

While the judge’s orders may seem restrictive, the normal court rules in Minnesota forbid any visual or audio trial coverage without the consent of both sides (in this case, the prosecution objected on the grounds that it could make witnesses reluctant to testify). Even with consent, the normal rules say there can be no audio coverage of potential jurors during jury selection, witnesses can decline to be shown and any motions heard outside of the jury’s presence are out of bounds.

But because the pandemic has placed sharp restrictions on the number of people who can be in the courtroom, Judge Cahill wrote that allowing cameras to capture the proceedings was the only way to ensure the right to a public trial. During jury selection, the candidates were heard, but not seen.

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April 19, 2021, 2:15 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:15 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

There was a lot of argument about the number of use-of-force experts that the prosecution called, with the judge limiting some of their testimony to avoid duplication. Now Eric Nelson is exploiting that in his closing argument for the defense, saying that the experts disagreed about exactly when Derek Chauvin’s use of force became unreasonable. This underscores his whole argument about officers having to use their own judgment in fluid situations.

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April 19, 2021, 2:09 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:09 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, says that at the moment that George Floyd took his last breath, two other things happened: An off-duty fire department E.M.T. walked up from behind Derek Chauvin, startling him, and he took out his can of mace in response to the crowd. In the video that Nelson shows while discussing that moment, the most salient thing is a bystander saying of Floyd: “He cannot breathe. Look at him.”

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April 19, 2021, 2:04 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:04 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

I recall that in his opening statement three weeks ago, Eric Nelson argued that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do. Here, in his closing argument, he is trying to stitch all that together by showing video that may be unflattering to his client, but then cutting from that to the Police Department’s policy manual and using that to justify Chauvin’s actions.

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April 19, 2021, 1:59 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:59 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, has taken a lot longer than I thought he would arguing that Derek Chauvin’s use of force was justified and talking about the bystanders’ reaction to Chauvin’s actions. He hasn’t even gotten to the main issue which experts have said will likely give him the best chance for raising reasonable doubt among the jurors: the cause of George Floyd’s death.

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April 19, 2021, 2:04 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:04 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Nelson is reading from a police policy manual that instructs officers to never underestimate a crowd — but he acknowledges that this is meant to describe much larger crowds than the dozen or so people who gathered at the site of George Floyd’s arrest, like at protests.

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April 19, 2021, 1:57 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:57 p.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Security-camera footage showing the arrest of George Floyd outside of Cup Foods last May.
Security-camera footage showing the arrest of George Floyd outside of Cup Foods last May. Credit…Still image, via Court TV

In his closing arguments, Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, walked jurors through the different perspectives of the police officers during the arrest of George Floyd, at one point focusing on the moment they struggled to put Mr. Floyd in the patrol car.

The futility of their efforts became apparent. They weren’t able to get him into the car. Three Minneapolis police officers were not able to get Mr. Floyd into the car. They themselves are experiencing that, that surge of adrenaline. A reasonable police officer will be experiencing that surge of a jump of adrenaline and again, balancing all of the evidence against each other.

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April 19, 2021, 1:56 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:56 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

I’m having a hard time seeing how it benefits the defense to bring up the martial arts expert who saw what was happening to George Floyd and objected, or for that matter Darnella Frazier’s bystander video. Eric Nelson, the defense attorney, seems to be making a point about perspective — Frazier didn’t even know that the other two officers who helped pin down George Floyd were there, he says.

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April 19, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

In the same argument about different perspectives, Nelson describes another witness, Charles McMillian, as “61 years old, third-grade education, grew up in the South.”

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April 19, 2021, 1:53 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:53 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

There’s a reveal. Defense lawyer Eric Nelson says three people involved in this trial went to the same high school: Nelson himself; Darnella Frazier, the teenager who took the viral bystander video; and the Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo. Just like the prosecution tried to liken the jury to the bystanders watching George Floyd be restrained, Nelson is saying, hey, we’re all members of the same community.

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April 19, 2021, 1:48 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:48 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Much of Eric Nelson’s defense case has rested on hypotheticals, like whether the prone position is dangerous if you’re sunbathing in Florida; whether George Floyd was feigning a need for medical attention to avoid arrest; and whether a reasonable police officer might have thought that Floyd had “excited delirium” — though multiple experts testified that he did not show the symptoms of excited delirium, itself a controversial medical diagnosis.

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April 19, 2021, 1:45 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:45 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from Minneapolis

It’s surprising to see how much video of the arrest of George Floyd that Derek Chauvin’s lawyer is playing for the jury. Much of the video evidence in the case has been considered helpful to the prosecution, but Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, seems to think there are moments that also show that the officers may have acted reasonably. (Notably, Nelson has focused on the officers’ body camera videos and has not played the graphic bystander video that sparked much of the anger over George Floyd’s death.)

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April 19, 2021, 1:42 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:42 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, says it is not uncommon for suspects to fake a medical emergency to avoid getting arrested. This was the point that Nelson wanted to make earlier in the trial when he presented evidence of a previous arrest of George Floyd a year before he died, in which an ambulance was also called. But the judge strictly limited that evidence. Now Nelson is just suggesting it in his closing.

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April 19, 2021, 1:33 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:33 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

“The nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, says. Nelson is suggesting that to determine whether Derek Chauvin acted reasonably during the time that he knelt on George Floyd, you have to look at the period before Floyd was on the ground.

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April 19, 2021, 1:40 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:40 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Nelson has repeatedly brought up the idea that a compliant suspect can suddenly turn violent. There was a lot of prosecution testimony making the point that an officer has to respond to what the suspect is doing, not what the suspect might do.

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April 19, 2021, 1:32 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:32 p.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, reminded jurors that a police officer’s job is fluid and that officers are constantly taking into consideration the situation and how it might change.

And then you look at the direct knowledge that a reasonable police officer would have at the precise moment force was used. That includes information that they gather from dispatch, their direct observations of the scene, the subjects and the current surroundings. They have to take into consideration whether the suspect — the suspect — was under the influence of a controlled substance. They can take into consideration — because, again, this is a dynamic and ever changing, just like life, things change, it’s a dynamic situation, it’s fluid — they take into account their experience with the subject at the beginning, the middle, the end. They try to — a reasonable police officer — tries to predict or is at least cognizant and concerned about future behavior, based upon past behavior. But the unpredictability of humans factors into the reasonable police officer’s analysis, too, because sometimes people take — reasonable police officers — take someone into custody with no problem, and suddenly they become a problem. It can change in an instant.

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April 19, 2021, 1:30 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:30 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

In his closing argument so far, defense lawyer Eric Nelson is hyperfocused on what happened before George Floyd was pinned to the pavement: “Not a single use-of-force expert that testified, not a single police officer who testified, said that any thing up until this point was unlawful or unreasonable.” But the case hinges on what happened next.

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April 19, 2021, 1:32 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:32 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

A large part of his strategy is to divert attention away from the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin was on Floyd. Dwelling on that time period “is not the proper analysis,” Nelson says.

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April 19, 2021, 1:25 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:25 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, is showing three different views of officers trying to get George Floyd into the back of a squad car. “A reasonable police officer understands the intensity of the struggle,” he says, noting that Derek Chauvin’s badge and body camera were knocked off.

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April 19, 2021, 1:26 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:26 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

If the prosecutors are pointing to the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd and asking jurors to believe their eyes, Nelson is focusing on the videos of Floyd struggling to get into the car and asking jurors to believe their eyes that Floyd is resisting.

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April 19, 2021, 1:25 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:25 p.m. ET
In opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a prosecutor showed a photograph of two $20 bills that had the same serial number, suggesting that they were counterfeit.
In opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a prosecutor showed a photograph of two $20 bills that had the same serial number, suggesting that they were counterfeit.Credit…Still image via Court TV

The last three weeks of the Derek Chauvin trial provided jurors with a comprehensive understanding of George Floyd’s final moments, pieced together from hours of video and witness testimony. But there is one part of the case that lawyers for both sides have spent little time on: the $20 bill that brought the police to the scene in the first place.

Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd on May 25, was one of four officers who took part in the arrest, which began when a clerk for the Cup Foods convenience store called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

In opening statements, a prosecutor showed jurors a photograph of two $20 bills that had the same serial number, suggesting that they were counterfeit. One of the bills was ripped in two, a sign that the other one may have been the bill that Mr. Floyd used to buy cigarettes, though prosecutors did not discuss the photograph in more detail.

“The police officers could have written him a ticket, and let the courts sort it out,” Jerry W. Blackwell, the prosecutor, told jurors during opening statements.

In his closing arguments for the prosecution, Steve Schleicher again brought up the reason for the arrest. “This was a call about a counterfeit $20 bill,” he said. “All that was required was some compassion.”

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, has spent little time discussing the bill, in what could be a sign that he believes it would be unproductive to link Mr. Chauvin’s response to Mr. Floyd’s supposed offense. Instead, he has focused on Mr. Floyd’s actions after the police arrived.

The Minneapolis Police Department has also said little about the bill since its initial report in May, which noted that police officers had been responding to a “forgery in progress.” A spokesman for the department referred questions about the bill to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state agency that led the investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death. Officials at the agency declined to answer several questions about the bill, saying they could not discuss evidence while a court case was ongoing and an investigation remained open.

Christopher Martin, the teenage clerk who accepted the $20 bill from Mr. Floyd, testified on the third day of the trial that he quickly recognized it as fake because it had an unusual blue pigmentation.

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Cup Foods Worker Shares ‘Guilt’ Over Taking George Floyd’s Fake Bill

Christopher Martin, a teenage store clerk, testified on Wednesday about his encounter with George Floyd in the minutes proceeding his death. Mr. Martin said he felt guilt and regret for taking Mr. Floyd’s counterfeit bill.

“I’m going to pause here for a moment. The record should reflect 8:29:55. We saw you standing there with your hands on your head for a while, correct?” “Correct.” “What was going through your mind during that time period?” “Disbelief and guilt.” “Why guilt?” “If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.”

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Christopher Martin, a teenage store clerk, testified on Wednesday about his encounter with George Floyd in the minutes proceeding his death. Mr. Martin said he felt guilt and regret for taking Mr. Floyd’s counterfeit bill.CreditCredit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

Mr. Martin, 19, said a friend of Mr. Floyd’s had come in earlier and also tried to use a fake $20 bill but was rebuffed. Mr. Martin said he thought Mr. Floyd, unlike his friend, had not realized that the bill was fake. “I thought I’d be doing him a favor” by accepting it, Mr. Martin said.

He testified that he told a manager at the store about the fake bill and that the manager told him to ask Mr. Floyd to come back inside. When Mr. Floyd twice refused, the manager had another employee call 911. Mr. Martin said he later felt “disbelief and guilt” that his actions had led to the police confrontation with Mr. Floyd.

Nearly a year after Mr. Floyd’s death, it remains unclear where the bill came from and whether Mr. Floyd committed the crime that brought police officers to the scene.

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April 19, 2021, 1:15 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:15 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, characterizes what George Floyd was doing while struggling to get into the squad car as “active resistance” to the police officers trying to arrest him. The prosecution said Floyd wasn’t able to comply, because he was anxious and claustrophobic.

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April 19, 2021, 1:16 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:16 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

It’s really hard to know what the jury will make of this argument — in the clip that the defense is showing to demonstrate active resistance, Floyd is already saying, “Please,” and, “I can’t breathe.”

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April 19, 2021, 1:09 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:09 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, tells jurors that the case is about more than the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd. Here we see the central tension in the case: For prosecutors, it’s all about the video (“Believe your eyes!”), and the defense needs to make it much more complicated than that.

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April 19, 2021, 1:08 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:08 p.m. ET
Defense lawyer Eric J. Nelson presenting his closing statement to the jury on Monday.
Defense lawyer Eric J. Nelson presenting his closing statement to the jury on Monday.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, presented his closing argument on Monday morning after taking just two days to present Mr. Chauvin’s case, calling on seven witnesses. The prosecution, meanwhile, called 38 witnesses over 11 days.

Here is a look at those the defense called to the witness stand:

  • Barry Brodd, an expert on the use of force, who testified that Mr. Chauvin acted within the bounds of normal policing when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for nine minutes 29 seconds and that his actions did not constitute a “use of force” at all. His testimony contradicted that of several witnesses called by the prosecution, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department.

  • Dr. David Fowler, a former chief medical examiner of Maryland, testified Wednesday that Mr. Floyd’s death could be attributed to his drug use, heart condition and possible carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust pipe of the police car. He said the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, which had been deemed a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, was “undetermined.”

  • Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, was originally called to testify for the state but was asked to return for the defense. During her testimony, she agreed with Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer that a police officer could mistake gasping for air with breathing and that a hostile group of bystanders could make it more likely for a police officer to miss signs that a detainee was in distress.

  • Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer, responded to the scene and was asked to watch Mr. Floyd’s car. As he did that, he said, he became concerned for the safety of the officers who were interacting with Mr. Floyd. “The crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive,” he said. He testified that the bystanders were aggressive enough to make him fear for the other officers’ safety.

  • Shawanda Hill, an associate of Mr. Floyd’s who was sitting in the back seat of the car when he was first approached by officers and arrested, testified that he kept falling asleep in the parked car and that she tried to rouse him as police officers approached the vehicle.

  • Scott Creighton, a retired Minneapolis police officer, worked for the department for 28 years, including 22 years as a street-level narcotics investigator. He testified about an incident on May 6, 2019, a traffic stop during which a passenger, whom he identified as Mr. Floyd, was not responsive to his commands.

  • Michelle Moseng, a former paramedic at Hennepin County Medical Center Emergency Medical Services, also testified about the 2019 traffic stop. She said she was summoned to the police precinct to care for Mr. Floyd after he had been arrested. That day, she said, Mr. Floyd told her he had been taking some form of opioid “multiple, every 20 minutes” and another as the officers approached. She recommended that he be transported to a hospital based on his elevated blood pressure.

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April 19, 2021, 1:06 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:06 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Here’s a kind of obscure point that has been bugging me: The defense threw a curveball when it suggested that carbon monoxide poisoning from the squad car tailpipe contributed to George Floyd’s death. But it didn’t come up during testimony whether the officers would be culpable for holding Floyd down near the tailpipe. Now Nelson is saying that the safety of the person being arrested is supposed to be one of an officer’s considerations.

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April 19, 2021, 1:03 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:03 p.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin, urged jurors in his closing statements to presume that Mr. Chauvin is innocent and then compare what he described as conflicting facts in the prosecution’s case that Mr. Chauvin killed George Floyd.

You can’t come in and say, George Floyd, on the one hand, ‘George Floyd died of asphyxiation, but he had a 98 percent oxygen level.’ All right? His blood is oxygenated. Then it is stands to reason, the opposite is true as well. You can’t come in and say, ‘I can conclusively prove that Mr. Floyd didn’t have carbon monoxide in his blood because he had this high oxygen saturation.’ You test one statement against the evidence of other people, and you compare it. That is what you, as jurors, are obligated to do. And what I am asking you to do, compare the evidence against itself, test it, challenge it, compare it to the law, read the instructions in their entirety. Start from the point of the presumption of innocence and see how far the state can get. I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

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April 19, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

In assessing a police officer’s use of force, the jury is supposed to put itself in the shoes of “a reasonable officer in the same situation.” That means they have to consider what the officer knew, or reasonably should have known, at the time. This standard comes into play a lot in cases where officers make a split-second judgment, like mistaking a cellphone for a gun. But the challenge for the defense in this case is that there was no split-second judgment — that’s why the prosecution keeps mentioning the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd.

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April 19, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:57 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

As we discussed earlier, Chauvin’s lawyer is trying to make the case that his client was allowed to use the force he did on Floyd because he was a police officer. It will be interesting to see how he challenges all of the prosecution’s police witnesses who said that Chauvin was out of line.

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April 19, 2021, 1:00 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 1:00 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Recall that the defense’s own use-of-force expert admitted that Chauvin’s actions violated the policy of the Minneapolis Police Department, and said that a reasonable police officer would abide by his department’s policies.

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April 19, 2021, 12:54 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:54 p.m. ET
Officer Rich Walker, left, Sgt. Anna Hedberg and Sgt. Sherral Schmidt, Minneapolis Police union leaders, spoke to State Senate committees last year about the death of George Floyd.
Officer Rich Walker, left, Sgt. Anna Hedberg and Sgt. Sherral Schmidt, Minneapolis Police union leaders, spoke to State Senate committees last year about the death of George Floyd.Credit…Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

As the defense began to present its closing arguments on Monday, Eric J. Nelson has so far been the only attorney to speak in court on behalf of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd.

But Mr. Chauvin is actually backed by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, an organization of unions that has more than 10,000 members including police officers, correctional officers, dispatchers and firefighters.

As a police officer, Mr. Chauvin was a member of the Minneapolis Police Federation, one of the unions in the association, and his defense is being paid through the association’s legal defense fund, a spokesman for the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said.

The spokesman declined to answer questions about the funding and use of the legal defense fund, stating that it was “confidential.”

Mr. Nelson is a private lawyer with Halberg Criminal Defense and is one of 12 lawyers connected with the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, which assigns cases on a rotating basis, according to The Associated Press.

Brian Peters, the association’s executive director, told The Associated Press that four lawyers were assigned to the four officers charged in connection with George Floyd’s death, and that they have been collaborating behind the scenes.

“It may appear that it’s just Eric, but that is very far from the truth,” Mr. Peters told The Associated Press.

Mr. Nelson has also been accompanied in court by Amy Voss, a woman he identified as his assistant but who is also a licensed lawyer. She has been seated at a table behind Mr. Nelson and Mr. Chauvin throughout the trial. In addition, several other Minneapolis defense lawyers who typically represent police officers, including the attorneys for the three other officers who were on the scene when Mr. Floyd died and face aiding and abetting charges, are helping Mr. Nelson behind the scenes.

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April 19, 2021, 12:48 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:48 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecution did not show its central piece of evidence — the 10-minute bystander video of George Floyd’s death — during its closing arguments. I think that means we can expect to see it when they come back for rebuttal. The prosecution gets the last word.

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April 19, 2021, 12:49 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:49 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecutor did display a gruesome screen grab from that bystander video — of a seemingly lifeless George Floyd beneath Derek Chauvin’s knee — on the monitor several times.

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April 19, 2021, 12:44 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:44 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, is moving around as much as he can given the pandemic protocols that require him to stay behind the podium rather than roam the courtroom, as lawyers often like to do when giving closing arguments. He has only occasionally looked at his notes, giving the impression of a lawyer in command of his argument.

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April 19, 2021, 12:46 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:46 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Pandemic protocols also limit the number of family members who can be in the courtroom for the victim and the defendant, as well as the number of journalists. We’ve just heard from the pool reporter in court today that Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, was in the courtroom during the prosecution’s closing argument, as well as an unidentified woman in the Chauvin family seat.

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April 19, 2021, 12:43 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:43 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

I love the definition of reasonable doubt, which Derek Chauvin’s lawyer is discussing in his closing argument, because it’s not ANY doubt — it’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s not a remote possibility, it’s not “fanciful or capricious.” It really goes to the jury’s job of weighing the relative importance of different pieces of evidence.

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April 19, 2021, 12:34 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:34 p.m. ET
A memorial to George Floyd outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, near the site of Mr. Floyd's fatal encounter with the police.
A memorial to George Floyd outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, near the site of Mr. Floyd’s fatal encounter with the police.Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Facebook on Monday said it planned to limit posts that contain misinformation and hate speech related to the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, to keep them from spilling over into real-world harm.

As closing arguments began in the trial and Minneapolis braced for a verdict, Facebook said it would identify and remove posts on the social network that urged people to bring arms to the city. It also said it would protect members of Mr. Floyd’s family from harassment and take down content that praised, celebrated or mocked his death.

“We know this trial has been painful for many people,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, wrote in a blog post. “We want to strike the right balance between allowing people to speak about the trial and what the verdict means, while still doing our part to protect everyone’s safety.”

Facebook, which has long positioned itself as a site for free speech, has become increasingly proactive in policing content that might lead to real-world violence. The Silicon Valley company has been under fire for years over the way it has handled sensitive news events. That includes last year’s presidential election, when online misinformation about voter fraud galvanized supporters of former President Donald J. Trump. Believing the election to have been stolen from Mr. Trump, some supporters stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

Leading up to the election, Facebook took steps to fight misinformation, foreign interference and voter suppression. The company displayed warnings on more than 150 million posts with election misinformation, removed more than 120,000 posts for violating its voter interference policies and took down 30 networks that posted false messages about the election.

But critics said Facebook and other social media platforms did not do enough. After the storming of the Capitol, the social network stopped Mr. Trump from being able to post on the site. The company’s independent oversight board is now debating whether the former president will be allowed back on Facebook and has said it plans to issue its decision “in the coming weeks,” without giving a definite date.

The death of Mr. Floyd, who was Black, led to a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the nation last year. Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is white, faces charges of manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder for Mr. Floyd’s death. The trial began in late March. Mr. Chauvin did not testify.

Facebook said on Monday that it had determined that Minneapolis was, at least temporarily, “a high-risk location.” It said it would remove pages, groups, events and Instagram accounts that violated its violence and incitement policy; take down attacks against Mr. Chauvin and Mr. Floyd; and label misinformation and graphic content as sensitive.

The company did not have any further comment.

“As the trial comes to a close, we will continue doing our part to help people safely connect and share what they are experiencing,” Ms. Bickert said in the blog post.

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April 19, 2021, 12:26 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:26 p.m. ET
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Prosecutor Describes George Floyd’s Last Moments in Closing Statement

Steve Schleicher, a prosecutor for the Derek Chauvin trial, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, focused his closing statements on describing in vivid detail the last moments of Mr. Floyd’s life.

This is not the trial of George Floyd. George Floyd is not on trial here. You’ve heard some things about George Floyd, that he struggled with drug addiction, that he was being investigated for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill, that there was never any evidence introduced that he knew was fake in the first place. But but he is not on trial. He didn’t get a trial when he was alive. And he is not on trial here. A knee to the neck, a knee to the back, twisting his fingers, holding his legs for nine minutes and 29 seconds — the defendant’s weight on him. The lungs in his chest unable to expand because there wasn’t enough room to breathe. George Floyd tried. He pushed his bare shoulder against the pavement to lift himself, to give his chest, to give his lungs enough room in his chest, to breathe. The pavement tearing into his skin, George Floyd losing strength, not superhuman strength. There is no superhuman strength that day. There’s no superhuman strength because there’s no such thing as a superhuman — those exist in comic books.

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Steve Schleicher, a prosecutor for the Derek Chauvin trial, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, focused his closing statements on describing in vivid detail the last moments of Mr. Floyd’s life.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

In his last comments to jurors before they begin deliberating over a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, a Minnesota prosecutor argued that Mr. Chauvin had acted with cruelty and indifference unbefitting of a police officer and should be convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death.

The prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, tried to walk a fine line in his closing argument as he sought to describe Mr. Chauvin as a police officer who had not followed the department’s policies while making it clear that prosecutors were not criticizing policing as a whole.

“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 about police officers,” Mr. Schleicher told the 12 jurors who will decide the verdict. “What the defendant did was not policing. What the defendant did was an assault.”

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, will also make a closing argument on Monday, after which another prosecutor will have an opportunity for a rebuttal. Then the jury will be sequestered and will begin discussing the evidence that they have heard over the last three weeks of the trial. The jurors can deliberate for as long as they want before coming to a decision on the three charges that Mr. Chauvin faces: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They must be unanimous to convict him on any count.

For nearly two hours on Monday, Mr. Schleicher summarized the prosecution’s evidence and tried to raise doubt about the evidence offered by Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, peppering his arguments with portions of the jury instructions and the law. It was Mr. Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes that killed him on May 25, Mr. Schleicher said, not any heart condition or drug overdose. Mr. Schleicher referenced the length of time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd — nine minutes and 29 seconds — 22 times in his closing argument.

“George Floyd struggled, desperate to breathe, to make enough room in his chest to breathe, but the force was too much,” Mr. Schleicher said. “He was trapped. He was trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down.”

Throughout the closing argument, Mr. Chauvin, dressed in a gray suit, blue tie and blue shirt, continued to take notes on a legal pad, as he has done for much of the trial.

Mr. Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests against police brutality last summer and led to fresh calls from activists across the country to divert public funds from police departments. But Mr. Schleicher tried to distance the prosecution from any broad criticism of the police, instead focusing jurors’ attention on Mr. Chauvin alone. “This is not an anti-police prosecution,” Mr. Schleicher said. “It’s a pro-police prosecution.”

The prosecutor also sought to humanize Mr. Floyd, showing photographs from his childhood and describing a loving family. And Mr. Schleicher also referenced Mr. Floyd’s struggles with drug addiction and the accusation that he had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes before the police arrived, saying jurors should remember that Mr. Floyd is not the man on trial.

“He didn’t get a trial when he was alive, and he is not on trial here,” Mr. Schleicher said. Throughout the trial, prosecutors have tried to get ahead of arguments from the defense that Mr. Floyd had resisted arrest and could have overdosed on the fentanyl and methamphetamine that were found in his system.

Mr. Schleicher said that Mr. Floyd had, at many times, complied with police officers’ commands, even as one of the officers first approached Mr. Floyd’s car with a handgun pointed at his head. The prosecutor said Mr. Chauvin had shown “indifference” to Mr. Floyd’s life by ignoring his repeated complaints that he could not breathe, as well as demands by bystanders to get off of Mr. Floyd and an officer’s question about whether the police should move Mr. Floyd to another position.

“He could have listened to bystanders; he could have listened to fellow officers; he could have listened to his own training,” Mr. Schleicher said. “He knew better, he just didn’t do better.”

Mr. Schleicher emphasized to jurors that they were the only ones who had the power to convict Mr. Chauvin and said that they had a duty to do so. As he concluded his argument, he showed a photograph of Mr. Floyd one more time for the jurors.

“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video,” Mr. Schleicher said. “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,” Mr. Schleicher continued. “The defendant is guilty of all three counts. All of them. And there’s no excuse.”

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April 19, 2021, 12:15 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:15 p.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher told jurors in his closing arguments that officer Derek Chauvin made the choice, over and over, to hurt George Floyd. Recalling the testimony of a 9-year-old witness and many others at the scene who urged Mr. Chauvin to stop kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, Mr. Schleicher said that even a child could see that the arresting officer’s actions were not justified.

He could have listened to the bystanders. He could have listened to fellow officers. He could have listened to his own training. He knew better. He just didn’t do better. He knew that kneeling on somebody’s neck — in addition to the positional asphyxia, just the pressure — is dangerous. Anyone can tell you that — a nine year old can tell you that, did tell you that.

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April 19, 2021, 11:48 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:48 a.m. ET
Security-camera footage showing the arrest of George Floyd.
Security-camera footage showing the arrest of George Floyd.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Throughout the trial of Derek Chauvin, jurors have repeatedly been shown the harrowing last minutes of George Floyd’s life on a Minneapolis street corner last May, captured in surveillance video, bystander cellphone videos and body camera footage from the police.

Between the defense and the prosecution, the videos of Mr. Floyd’s arrest and death, including partial clips, were played, paused and replayed in court at least a dozen times, mostly by the prosecution.

On Monday, Steve Schleicher, a lawyer for the prosecution, walked the jury through the video once more during closing arguments. He paused it at several key moments, including when an officer approached Mr. Floyd’s car wielding a gun and when Mr. Floyd pleaded with the officers, who were trying to push him into the back seat of the police car, as he explained that he was claustrophobic.

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April 19, 2021, 11:32 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:32 a.m. ET

By Traci Carl

In his closing arguments for the prosecution, Steve Schleicher told jurors that when officer Derek Chauvin, the defendant, arrested George Floyd last May, he failed to do what people expect from police officers — listen and help.

This was a call about a counterfeit $20 bill. All that was required was some compassion. Humans need that. People need that. But more fundamental than that and more practical at that time, in that place, what George Floyd needed was some oxygen. That’s what he needed. He needed to breathe because people need that. Humans need that to breathe. And he said that, and the defendant heard him say that over and over. He heard him, but he just didn’t listen. He continued to push him down, to grind into him, to shimmy, to twist his hand for nine minutes and 29 seconds. He begged, George Floyd begged, until he could speak no more. And the defendant continued this assault. When he was unable to speak, the defendant continued. When he was unable to breathe, the defendant continued beyond the point that he had a pulse.

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April 19, 2021, 11:16 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:16 a.m. ET
A group of student activists from South High School in Minneapolis hung a banner in support of George Floyd from the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.
A group of student activists from South High School in Minneapolis hung a banner in support of George Floyd from the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

Minneapolis Public Schools will shift to remote learning later this week in anticipation of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, Ed Graff, the district superintendent, said in a notice sent to the school community last week.

The schools will shift to remote learning from Wednesday through Friday, but if the trial schedule changes, the district will “re-evaluate, adjust plans and let families and students know as soon as possible,” the letter said.

Monday marked the first return to the classroom for sixth-grade students in Minneapolis Public Schools since the start of the pandemic. Seventh and eighth graders will return on Tuesday at most schools, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis Public Schools said. Most high schools returned last week, and elementary schools in February. All grades will shift to remote learning for the trial verdict.

School buildings will remain open, but athletic events and child care will not take place, the letter said. The shift to remote learning does not interrupt boxed meals that are available for students.

The notice also said that age-appropriate resources had been provided to teachers to aid in classroom discussion about the “racism and violence that has been highlighted in these tragic incidents.”

“As appropriate and as they are comfortable, teachers will give students the opportunity to process their feelings, how this feels to them personally and how they are impacted by having the eyes of the world on Minneapolis,” the letter said.

The Minneapolis Public School district serves more than 35,000 students in the Minneapolis area.

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