‘George Floyd Was Not a Threat,’ Prosecution Says, Making 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, 12:45 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:45 p.m. ET

The prosecution is presenting its closing arguments in Mr. Chauvin’s murder trial, arguing: “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, 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, 12:43 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, 12:42 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:42 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

I wonder if Eric Nelson will try to tell a story, to humanize his client, Derek Chauvin, or if he will attempt to explain what he was thinking, rather then just focus on legal concepts like reasonable doubt. I also wonder if he will acknowledge the tragedy of George Floyd’s death.

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April 19, 2021, 12:40 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:40 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Notably, Derek Chauvin has his mask off for his lawyer’s closing. Wonder what the strategy behind that is.

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April 19, 2021, 12:38 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:38 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, has begun his closing statement by thanking the jurors for their service.

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April 19, 2021, 12:39 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:39 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

He then moves to talking about what reasonable doubt is and notes that the burden to prove the case is on the state. I’ve covered many trials and defense lawyers always harp on that point — that they don’t have to prove anything to you.

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April 19, 2021, 12:39 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:39 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Nelson also apologizes in advance for being “long-winded” but says he has a lot of ground to cover and only gets “one bite at the apple,” in contrast to the state, which will be able to offer a rebuttal after Nelson finishes.

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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
A graphic made by the prosecution, referencing the nine minutes 29 seconds that Derek Chauvin held his knee against George Floyd's neck.
A graphic made by the prosecution, referencing the nine minutes 29 seconds that Derek Chauvin held his knee against George Floyd’s neck.Credit…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 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 showed “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 that had the power to convict Mr. Chauvin and said 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, 12:14 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:14 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Steve Schleicher, the prosecutor, ends his closing argument with these words: “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.”

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April 19, 2021, 12:14 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:14 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Jurors are asked to come into a case with an open mind. But the prosecutor tells them to bring the emotion they had when they first saw the video of Derek Chauvin and George Floyd, long before they even got to court.

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April 19, 2021, 12:09 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:09 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

“All he did was mock him,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher says of Derek Chauvin’s behavior toward George Floyd in his closing argument. Again I’m struck by how little we actually heard about Chauvin during the trial — the prosecutors did not introduce evidence of his behavior during past arrests, for example, even though they could have. It means they believe what they keep saying, that his actions on May 25 speak for themselves.

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April 19, 2021, 12:11 p.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 12:11 p.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

“What’s the goal? What’s the plan here? What are we trying to accomplish? Why hold him that long, past that point, past that line that was crossed?” Schleicher is asking questions that I’m sure he would have loved to have asked Derek Chauvin if the defendant had testified. But Chauvin, as is his right, chose to remain silent.

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April 19, 2021, 11:59 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:59 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

“George Floyd is not a threat, he never was. He was not resisting — he was just unable to comply,” the prosecution says. The ability to comply is something that comes up time and again in fatal police encounters — was the person autistic? deaf? Under the influence? The Minneapolis Police Department policy specifically requires officers to consider a suspect’s ability to comply when they’re assessing whether the person is resisting.

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April 19, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Throughout this closing argument, as the prosecution attacks his actions and his character, Derek Chauvin has been doing the same thing that he has done throughout the trial: taking copious notes on a legal pad.

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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, 11:47 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:47 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

“Do you want to know what indifference sounds like?” prosecutor Steve Schleicher asks before he shows a video clip of Derek Chauvin saying, “Uh-huh,” in response to George Floyd’s cries that he is in pain while being restrained under Chauvin’s knee. Indifference is part of what the prosecution has to prove, but it is also a big part of how Black people describe their interactions with the police.

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April 19, 2021, 11:48 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:48 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Schleicher references a moment in the video in which Chauvin appears to be picking pebbles out of the tire of the police car as George Floyd pleaded for his life. It’s those small moments that lawyers have to stitch together to build their narrative of the case. Things that we — and the jurors — probably didn’t think twice about when we saw it the first time.

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April 19, 2021, 11:49 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:49 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

In a way, it was Chauvin’s indifference on display — the hand in the pocket, the snide remarks — in stark contrast to the pleas from Floyd and the onlookers that made the bystander video so shocking.

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

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Steve Schleicher, the prosecutor giving closing arguments, handled much of jury selection for the state, during which he often spoke casually and sometimes light heartedly. He also sometimes joked with witnesses, even defense witnesses, during testimony. Today we are seeing a different side of him — serious, emotional, in command of his narrative and only sometimes looking at notes.

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April 19, 2021, 11:37 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:37 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Schleicher addresses the question of “unlawful force,” which prosecutors have to prove that Derek Chauvin used on George Floyd in order to get a conviction. I can envision Chauvin’s lawyer arguing that his actions were lawful because he was a police officer. But Schleicher just told jurors: “Officers are only authorized by law to use reasonable force, and this was not reasonable force.”

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April 19, 2021, 11:22 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:22 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Steve Schleicher, the prosecutor delivering closing arguments, just showed a graphic with a bright red “9:29” superimposed over an image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd, kind of like a rubric on the evening news. Wonder how many more times today we will see that reference to the amount of time that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck?

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April 19, 2021, 11:23 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:23 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Schleicher reminds the jury what the prosecution’s experts said about Floyd’s cause of death, underscoring the sheer number of witnesses the state called. During the trial, the state called 38 witnesses over 11 days. The defense called just seven witnesses over two days last week.

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

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

To convict Derek Chauvin, the jury has to believe that he caused George Floyd’s death, a question that has been in contention during the trial. The jury has been given a definition from the judge that Chauvin’s actions must have been a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death, but not the only factor.

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April 19, 2021, 11:18 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:18 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

For those wondering how the day will go, prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s remarks will not be the last word for the state. After Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyer, delivers his closing remarks, Jerry Blackwell, who gave the state’s opening statement three weeks ago, will speak for about half an hour, I’m told, in rebuttal remarks.

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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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April 19, 2021, 11:13 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:13 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

The jury heard a lot of complicated legal concepts earlier this morning during jury instructions — such as “depraved mind”, “substantial bodily harm,” “culpable negligence.” At the end of the day, prosecutor Steve Schleicher says, jurors should simply rely on their common sense.

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April 19, 2021, 11:13 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:13 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Now Schleicher is attacking the notion that after being knelt on by Derek Chauvin for nine and a half minutes, George Floyd died of heart disease, as defense experts attempted to argue. “That’s not common sense,” the prosecutor says. “That’s nonsense.”

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April 19, 2021, 11:12 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:12 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

It’s possible that Steve Schleicher, the prosecutor, just misspoke during his opening arguments, calling the side recovery position the “prone recovery position,” which could confuse the jury. The side recovery position, which allows people to breathe, is considered safer than the prone (face-down) position. Schleicher is arguing that the police oficers already had George Floyd in the side recovery position and then placed him face-down, which is the opposite of what they’re supposed to do.

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

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

“Believe your eyes,” the prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, says, echoing what Jerry Blackwell, another prosecutor, said three weeks ago during opening arguments. Schleicher also spoke dismissively of the many things the defense has said to try to raise doubt about what caused George Floyd’s death — drugs, an enlarged heart, carbon monoxide from the squad car’s tailpipe, etc.

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April 19, 2021, 11:04 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:04 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

“He saunters up to the car and he slips on his gloves.” The prosecution shows a chilling bit of video from Derek Chauvin’s body camera. You hear the velcro of the gloves, and then you see the gloved hand on the squad car where his fellow officers are trying to put George Floyd.

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April 19, 2021, 11:02 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:02 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

What strikes me about the closing argument from prosecutor Steve Schleicher is that he is, in many ways, bringing forth the grievances of many people in the community, who argue that police officers often escalate situations rather than taking a more prudent route. Schleicher said earlier that this isn’t a case against the police, but in many ways, he is making a case against the police in his closing.

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April 19, 2021, 11:04 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:04 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

It’s really rare to hear the criminal justice system defending Black humanity. But that’s exactly what is happening right now.

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April 19, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher presenting closing arguments to the jury on Monday.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher presenting closing arguments to the jury on Monday.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher gave an account of George Floyd’s last moments during his closing arguments.

George Floyd died face down on the pavement right on 38th and Chicago, in Minneapolis, nine minutes and 29 seconds — nine minutes and 29 seconds. During this time, George Floyd struggled, desperate to 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 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. But the pavement tearing into his bare skin as he desperately pushed with his knuckles to make space so he’d have room to breathe — the pavement — lacerating — lacerating his knuckles. The defendant stayed on top of him for nine minutes and 29 seconds, so desperate to breathe, he pushed with his face — with his face — to lift himself, to open his chest, to give his lungs room, to breathe — the pavement tearing into his skin. George Floyd losing strength, not superhuman strength. There was no superhuman strength that day. There’s no superhuman strength because there’s no such thing as a superhuman. Those exist in comic books. And 38th and Chicago is a very real place. Not super humans, only humans, just a human, just a man lying on the pavement, being pressed upon, desperately crying out, a grown man crying out for his mother, a human being.

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April 19, 2021, 10:57 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:57 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

“This is not the trial of George Floyd. George Floyd is not on trial here.” Those are key words from the prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, in his closing argument. Too often, trials over police killings end up becoming an examination of the background of the victim in an attempt to judge how bad the person supposedly was.

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April 19, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

In the trial of Jason Van Dyke, a police officer convicted of murder in the killing of Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager in Chicago, the defense presented six background witnesses on the victim, to paint him as a bad person. In this trial, the defense was prevented from presenting what it wanted to about George Floyd’s background and character because the judge said much of it was irrelevant.

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April 19, 2021, 10:56 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:56 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

While being restrained, George Floyd told a bystander that he wasn’t trying to win. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher contrasts that with Derek Chauvin: “The defendant was trying to win. He wasn’t going to be told what to do. He wasn’t going to take a challenge to his authority.” I think this is one of the first times we’ve heard the prosecution try to characterize what was going on inside Chauvin’s head, underneath the sunglasses.

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April 19, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

“This was not policing, it was unnecessary, it was gratuitous, and he did it on purpose,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher says. Some jurors expressed pro-law-enforcement views during jury selection. Schleicher is giving them an opening to distinguish between a guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin and a condemnation of the police in general.

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April 19, 2021, 10:47 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:47 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Steve Schleicher, the prosecutor giving closing arguments, says: “This is not a prosecution of the police, this is a prosecution of the defendant.” It’s a big statement given the symbolic weight of this trial, but matches the state’s evidence, including the testimony of the Minneapolis police chief and several other officers against Derek Chauvin.

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April 19, 2021, 10:49 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:49 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

This just underscores the difference between what prosecutors advocate for in the courtroom versus what some community members advocate for in the streets. Many activists say that Chauvin’s actions should be a rebuke of the police, with some calling for police departments around the country to be dismantled.

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April 19, 2021, 10:50 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:50 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

This reminds me of the defense saying the case is not about race or other social issues. There’s the symbolism of this case to the broader world, but inside the courtroom the case necessarily has to be contested on narrow grounds of evidence and what one person — Derek Chauvin — did.

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April 19, 2021, 10:44 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:44 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Steve Schleicher, the prosecutor, tells the jury it might be hard for them to imagine a police officer could have done what Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd. The prosecutors feel they put on the best case possible, but they are nervous about the outcome because of the history of juries not convicting police officers.

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April 19, 2021, 10:46 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:46 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

Obviously there are many communities that, given their experiences with the police, don’t have the faith in the police that Schleicher is speaking to here.

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April 19, 2021, 10:43 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:43 a.m. ET
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Derek Chauvin Trial Judge Gives Instructions to Jury

With closing arguments beginning, Judge Peter A. Cahill read aloud the instructions to the jurors to follow in deciding their verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd.

So members of the jury, I instruct you as follows: It is your duty to decide the questions of fact in this case. It is my duty to give you the rules of law that you must apply in arriving at your verdict. You have now heard the evidence, and soon you will hear the arguments of counsel. At this time, I will instruct you in the law applicable to this case. You must follow and apply the rules of law as I give them to you. Even if you believe the law is or should be different. You have each been given a copy of these instructions to follow along as I read, and you may take your copy with you when you retire to the jury room. Nevertheless, you should listen carefully and attentively as I read them to you now. Deciding questions of fact is your exclusive responsibility. In doing so, you must consider all the evidence you have heard and seen in this trial, and you must disregard anything that you may have heard or seen elsewhere about this case. I have not, by these instructions nor by any ruling or expression during the trial, intended to indicate my opinion regarding the facts or the outcome of this case. If I have said or done anything that would seem to indicate such an opinion, you are to disregard it. You must consider these instructions as a whole.

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With closing arguments beginning, Judge Peter A. Cahill read aloud the instructions to the jurors to follow in deciding their verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

With closing arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin beginning Monday morning, Judge Peter A. Cahill started by giving the jury its instructions for deliberation.

The instructions, which were drafted by lawyers from both the defense and the prosecution several months ago and have since been revised and finalized by the judge, explain to the jury the specific laws and terms relevant to this case.

Each juror was given a copy of the instructions, which they were told to keep under their seats during closing arguments, and which they will bring to their deliberations and use as a guide.

“Deciding questions of fact is your exclusive responsibility,” Judge Cahill said, telling the jury to disregard any outside information they have heard about this case while outside the courtroom.

The instructions are meant to simply and clearly define the legal principles of the three charges that Mr. Chauvin is facing, which include second-degree murder (the most severe), third-degree murder and manslaughter. The jury is to consider each charge independently.

Reading the instructions aloud, Judge Cahill explained the elements of what the jury must determine in order to find him guilty of each charge.

For the most serious charge that Mr. Chauvin is facing, second-degree murder, the prosecution has to prove that Chauvin assaulted Mr. Floyd — or that he intentionally committed or attempted to commit serious bodily harm.

Importantly, Mr. Chauvin does not have to have had the intent to kill Mr. Floyd, per the jury instructions. Only that his assault was intentional, and that it was a substantial factor in causing Mr. Floyd’s death.

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April 19, 2021, 10:42 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:42 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, is trying to argue to the jury that what Derek Chauvin did was an assault, the underlying felony they have to prove in order to get a second-degree murder conviction. He’s emphasizing that Chauvin did not get off George Floyd even after the ambulance arrived. “What the defendant did to George Floyd killed him,” Schleicher says.

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April 19, 2021, 10:44 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:44 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecution’s charges against Chauvin do not require them to prove that he had any intent to kill. They don’t have to get inside his head, which is difficult to do. They have to prove either that he killed Floyd while committing another felony (in this case, assault), or that he acted without regard to human life.

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April 19, 2021, 10:37 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:37 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

“There was no superhuman strength that day,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher says in his closing argument. The context of this remark was the defense’s strategy of using racial tropes and stereotypes to describe George Floyd, the same strategy that has worked in the past to secure acquittals of cops for killing Black men. One question of this trial: Does that strategy still work in America in 2021?

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April 19, 2021, 10:39 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:39 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

To me, it’s telltale that the defense ensured that “superhuman strength” got mentioned repeatedly throughout the trial, but presented no evidence that Floyd displayed superhuman strength.

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April 19, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

We can expect prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s remarks to go for about an hour and 15 minutes, I’m told, and he is expected to walk the jury one last time, frame by frame, through the famous and harrowing bystander video of Derek Chauvin restraining George Floyd for more than nine minutes.

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April 19, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

“His name was George Perry Floyd Jr., and he was born on Oct. 14, 1973, in Fayetteville, N.C.” That’s how prosecutor Steve Schleicher started his closing argument. I can’t help but think about the idea of humanity, and that in the many police killings of Black people, community members have said that the officers just don’t see the humanity in Black people. Schleicher, in a very subtle way, is trying to bring forth that humanity.

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April 19, 2021, 10:37 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:37 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

He called him, “Mr. Officer.” Schleicher is saying that George Floyd did not have a familiar face around him as he died, only someone he knew by his uniform. “But Mr. Officer did not help,” he says.

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April 19, 2021, 10:34 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:34 a.m. ET
A sign marking Day 15 of the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
A sign marking Day 15 of the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Steve Schleicher, a prosecutor for the state, began making closing arguments on Monday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, marking the final stage of the trial before 12 jurors begin to decide Mr. Chauvin’s fate.

The closing arguments from prosecutor Mr. Schleicher and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, are the lawyers’ last chance to leave an impression with jurors before they are sequestered and begin deliberating on the three charges that Mr. Chauvin faces: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The closing arguments follow three weeks of evidence and testimony, during which jurors have heard from a host of policing and medical experts, Mr. Floyd’s loved ones and witnesses who saw Mr. Chauvin kneel on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last May.

Mr. Schleicher will make prosecutors’ closing argument first, followed by Mr. Nelson. Another prosecutor will then have an opportunity for a rebuttal, after which the jury will begin deliberating.

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April 19, 2021, 10:29 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:29 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

For the most serious charge that Derek Chauvin is facing, second-degree murder, the prosecution has to prove that Chauvin assaulted George Floyd — or that he intentionally committed or attempted to commit serious bodily harm, Judge Peter Cahill tells jurors. One important thing here is that Chauvin does not have to have had the intent to kill Floyd, per the jury instructions. Just that his assault was intentional, and that it was a substantial factor in causing Floyd’s death

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April 19, 2021, 10:31 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:31 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

The jurors in this case received the judge’s very lengthy instructions in writing, which I imagine is very helpful. I’ve covered cases in New York in which judges don’t give jurors a copy of the instructions — they have to rely on memory.

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April 19, 2021, 10:28 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:28 a.m. ET
Derek Chauvin's booking photos from June 2020.
Derek Chauvin’s booking photos from June 2020.Credit…Agence France-Presse, via Hennepin County Jail – Getty Images

The former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, faces three charges in the death of George Floyd: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

  • Second-degree murder, also called unintentional murder or felony murder, is killing someone in the course of committing another felony — in this case, the prosecutors will argue that Mr. Chauvin was assaulting Mr. Floyd. This charge does not require the prosecution to prove that Mr. Chauvin had any intent to kill. It carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, but Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of 10.5 years for someone who, like Mr. Chauvin, has no prior convictions.

  • Third-degree murder is a death that occurs when someone is acting extremely dangerously, without regard to human life and “evincing a depraved mind.” Prosecutors will argue that Mr. Chauvin knew that the restraint he used on Mr. Floyd was potentially lethal and a violation of police procedure and training. Third-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 25 years. The guideline recommendation is 10.5 years.

  • Second-degree manslaughter is death by “culpable negligence,” in which the perpetrator knowingly risks causing death or serious harm. It’s punishable by up to 10 years, but under the state guidelines a likely sentence would be four years.

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April 19, 2021, 10:26 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:26 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The judge’s jury instructions include specific instructions to the juror for what to consider when the accused is a police officer. Because officers are authorized to use deadly force in some circumstances, the jury has to evaluate whether the force would have been reasonable to an officer in the moment, not reasonable in hindsight.

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April 19, 2021, 10:25 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:25 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

As the judge discusses in his jury instructions what constitutes intent, I’m reflecting that one thing that did not come up during the trial is whether Derek Chauvin and George Floyd knew one other. They worked as bouncers at the same nightclub, and there was a lot of speculation about whether there was something personal between them. But no proof of that has emerged.

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April 19, 2021, 10:19 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:19 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Judge Peter A. Cahill is going through the elements of the three charges that Derek Chauvin is facing, starting with the most severe. He is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Cahill explains the elements of what the jury must determine in order to find him guilty of each charge.

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April 19, 2021, 10:10 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:10 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

We are back in session for Week 4 of the Derek Chauvin murder trial, and Judge Cahill is reading the jury the instructions they will need to follow when deliberating over the verdict after closing arguments later this morning.

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April 19, 2021, 10:12 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:12 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Sometimes judges read instructions before the lawyers give their closing arguments, and sometimes after. Lawyers tend to prefer that they be read before closings, so they can refer to them in their final remarks to the jury.

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April 19, 2021, 10:09 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:09 a.m. ET

The New York Times

Damik Wright, center, the brother of Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by a police officer on April 11, was among the demonstrators who participated in a march against police brutality on Sunday in Minneapolis. The march followed a rally in front of Minnesota Governor Timothy James Walz’s home. The area is making preparations for a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, which is expected this week.

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April 19, 2021, 10:07 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:07 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

As we await closing arguments, one thing I’m eager to hear today is if and how Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, addresses the fact that his client knelt on George Floyd for more than nine minutes and what role that played in his death, as many prosecution witnesses testified to. Nelson’s goal has been to make this trial all about the other things that could have killed Floyd. So far, he hasn’t seemed to directly address that elephant in the room.

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April 19, 2021, 10:07 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 10:07 a.m. ET

John Eligon

Reporting from Minneapolis

To get a conviction, the prosecution needs to prove that Chauvin’s actions were a substantial causal factor in Floyd’s death, not that it was the only factor.

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April 19, 2021, 9:03 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 9:03 a.m. ET
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‘He Was Suffering’: Teenager Who Filmed Floyd’s Arrest Testifies at Trial

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she filmed video of George Floyd’s arrest, testified on Tuesday in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in Mr. Floyd’s death.

“And is this as you are approaching Cup Foods on May 25?” “Yes.” “Now see, there, your cousin goes into the store. Why did she go into the store, and then you turned around and then came back toward the squad cars?” “I wanted to make sure she got in.” [inaudible] “When you walk past the squad car there, did you see anything happening there on the ground as you were walking towards Cup Foods with your cousin?” “Yes, I see a man on the ground and I see a cop kneeling down on him.” “Was there anything about the scene that you didn’t want your cousin to see?” “Yes” “And what was that?” “A man terrified, scared, begging for his life.” “Is that why you directed your cousin to going into Cup Foods?” “Yes.” “And, and then when you saw what was happening there, at the scene, what was it about the scene that caused you to come back?” “He wasn’t right. He was he was suffering. He was in pain.” “So tell the jury what you observed, what you heard when you stopped to look at what was happening there at the scene.” “I heard George Floyd saying, ‘I can’t breathe. Please get off of me. I can’t breathe.’ He he cried for his mom. He was in pain. It seemed like he knew. It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified.”

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Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she filmed video of George Floyd’s arrest, testified on Tuesday in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in Mr. Floyd’s death.CreditCredit…Still image via Court TV

In the three weeks of the trial of Derek Chauvin, dozens of witnesses have testified; hours of video of George Floyd’s arrest have been played, paused and replayed; and two sides of the courtroom have presented opposing narratives to a jury tasked with determining the guilt or innocence of a former police officer charged with murder in one of the most watched trials in decades.

Through witness testimony, several distinct themes have emerged as the most crucial points of contention: whether Mr. Chauvin violated policy when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes; what role, if any, drugs played in Mr. Floyd’s death; and what kind of impact the arrest may have had on the people who witnessed it.

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April 19, 2021, 8:31 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 8:31 a.m. ET
The trial for officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is shown on the outdoor televisions at the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.
The trial for officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is shown on the outdoor televisions at the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is unusual for many reasons: It is being livestreamed from Minneapolis, attendance is severely limited because of the coronavirus and the public’s interest in the case may make this one of the highest-profile trials in recent memory.

Closing arguments are expected to begin around 10 a.m. Eastern on Monday and can be watched on nytimes.com, via a livestream provided by Court TV, which is also airing the trial in full. Afterward, the jury will begin to deliberate over the verdict.

Among the people allowed in the courtroom, on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center, are the judge, jurors, witnesses, court staff, lawyers, Mr. Chauvin and a handful of spectators.

The judge, Peter A. Cahill, wrote in an order on March 1 that only one member of Mr. Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s family would be allowed in the room at any time. Two seats are reserved for reporters and various journalists that have been rotating throughout the trial.

The lawyers, spectators, jurors and witnesses are required to wear masks when they are not speaking. Spectators are prohibited from having any visible images, logos, letters or numbers on their masks or clothing, according to Judge Cahill’s order.

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April 19, 2021, 7:49 a.m. ETApril 19, 2021, 7:49 a.m. ET
Businesses in Minneapolis are boarded up in anticipation of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
Businesses in Minneapolis are boarded up in anticipation of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

As Minneapolis awaits a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, which could come down this week after closing arguments on Monday, there is a sense of life suspended — an inability to imagine what the world will look like after the jury of seven women and five men reaches its decision.

“A lot of people are immobilized, they are afraid,” said Andre Marshall, a deacon at Zion Baptist Church, in Minneapolis’s historically Black neighborhood of Near North. He said he was optimistic about the outcome after seeing the evidence, but even so, “personally, I’m afraid of an acquittal.”

A not-guilty verdict could bring anger, chaos and destruction to Minneapolis once again, a year after unrest following George Floyd’s death led to what the city said was $350 million in losses, with more than a thousand buildings either destroyed or damaged. Last week, hundreds in the Twin Cities region came out to protest after Daunte Wright was shot dead by a police officer following a routine traffic stop in the suburban community of Brooklyn Center.

Sara Stamshror-Lott, a therapist who specializes in trauma therapy in Minneapolis’s minority communities, said that the trial, and the painful emotions it has resurfaced among Black citizens who have suffered from abusive policing, have consumed her sessions.

If Mr. Chauvin is found guilty of murder, the verdict would certainly bring a sense of relief to many in the community. But at the same time, any celebration of a conviction of one officer would be weighed against the reality of persistent racial disparities that Mr. Floyd’s death has forced Minneapolis to reckon with.

“It’s not a one-and-done thing,” Ms. Stamshror-Lott said. “Even if he’s found guilty, that is like literally scraping at the very beginning of all the justice reform that needs to happen, from the schools to the prison system, to the health care system, to everything in between.

“Yes it would be a victory, but it wouldn’t mean the system is changed.”

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April 15, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ET
Black Lives Matter initials, written in chalk on the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center, on Thursday.
Black Lives Matter initials, written in chalk on the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center, on Thursday.Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

The presentation of evidence in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, concluded on Thursday without testimony from Mr. Chauvin himself.

Lawyers will give their concluding arguments on Monday, and then the jury will begin its own deliberations. Whether Mr. Chauvin would testify was a major question in this trial, one of the most-viewed in decades. Though the death of Mr. Floyd sparked a national reckoning around the intersection of race and policing — and ignited a wave of protests that rocked big cities and small towns across America — the public has heard very little from the former officer.

Throughout the trial, Mr. Chauvin displayed little, if any, emotion. (With a face mask, it can be more difficult to see a person’s expressions.) He listened and took notes as people who watched the arrest in person broke down in tears on the stand, and as numerous expert witnesses from the prosecution placed the blame of Mr. Floyd’s death squarely on his shoulders.

Mr. Chauvin’s defense team called two expert witnesses to the stand this week, along with a handful of other witnesses, most of whom spoke only briefly. A use-of-force expert testified that he acted within the bounds of normal policing when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and a medical expert said the restraint was not a contributing factor in Mr. Floyd’s death.

Both witnesses faced dogged cross-examination from prosecuting attorneys. And on Thursday, prosecutors called back to the stand Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who refuted a notion pushed by the defense’s medical expert that carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death. Here are the takeaways from Mr. Chauvin’s defense.

  • Mr. Chauvin told the judge on Thursday that he would not testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. He faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges for the death of Mr. Floyd. Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s attorney, said they had several discussions about whether he should testify, including one lengthy meeting on Wednesday. Judge Peter A. Cahill told Mr. Chauvin that the jurors would be instructed to not hold his decision to avoid testifying against him.

  • Prosecutors called Dr. Tobin, the pulmonologist, back to the stand on Thursday to rebut the notion that vehicle exhaust contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death. One of the two expert witnesses from the defense, Dr. David Fowler, a former chief medical examiner of Maryland, testified on Wednesday that carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the police cruiser that Mr. Floyd was pinned next to might have been a contributing factor. He placed more emphasis on drug use and pre-existing heart conditions, saying there were likely many factors at play. Ultimately, he said Mr. Floyd’s manner of death was “undetermined.”

    Dr. Tobin said the carbon monoxide argument was “simply wrong.” He said tests performed by Hennepin County showed that Mr. Floyd had a normal level of oxygen saturation in his blood, and that his level of carboxyhemoglobin — something formed in the blood during by carbon monoxide poisoning — could not have been more than 2 percent; Dr. Fowler said it might have been as high as 10 to 18 percent, though he acknowledged he had not seen any tests to confirm his assumption.

  • One of Dr. Fowler’s primary assertions was that the prone position where Mr. Floyd was kept for nine and a half minutes was safe. He cited several studies to support this notion, and said there was no hard evidence that putting someone in a prone position with their hands cuffed behind their backs for an extended period of time could be dangerous. Some prosecution witnesses criticized the studies that Dr. Fowler cited, saying they do not reflect real-world policing. They also said that it is well-known among police officers that suspects should not be kept in the prone position for too long because it can make it harder to breathe, particularly when the suspect is being pinned down under the weight of an officer. In a win for the prosecution, Dr. Fowler said Mr. Floyd should have been given medical aid.

  • The other primary witness from the defense was Barry Brodd, an expert on the use of force whose testimony contradicted that of several witnesses called by the prosecution, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department. Mr. Brodd testified that the officers who arrested Mr. Floyd had acted appropriately every step of the way, and even said that the restraint used by Mr. Chauvin did not constitute a “use of force” at all.

    During cross-examination, though, he conceded that the restraint did qualify as a use of force under the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department. He also said that the prone position does not typically hurt suspects and that it was an accepted way to control someone during an arrest. But he faced tough cross-examination on this point, when a prosecutor played body camera footage from the arrest which captured Mr. Floyd saying, “Everything hurts,” and crying out in pain. Mr. Brodd said that he had heard these exclamations during his review of the tapes, but that he didn’t “note it.”

  • While the two expert witnesses gave testimony that supported Mr. Chauvin, it is unclear what impact they will have on jurors. Cross-examination from prosecutors was effective in that it drew some concessions from both witnesses on the stand. And the defense was less thorough than the prosecution. The prosecution called several medical specialists to the stand, including a cardiologist and a pulmonologist, and allowed its experts to walk through the arrest moment by moment, identifying key points and breaking down the video tapes in meticulous detail. The defense witnesses spoke more broadly, and appeared less knowledgeable about the particulars of the arrest.

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