Third Week of Testimony Begins in Chauvin Trial

The Derek Chauvin trial resumes following testimony last week from policing and medical experts. Here’s the latest.,

LiveUpdated April 12, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ET

A 20-year-old Black man was shot by an officer during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb hours before the 11th day of the trial.

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Watch live video of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. Warning: The video may include graphic images.CreditCredit…Liam James Doyle for The New York Times
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April 12, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ET

The state called Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, to take the stand on Friday. He was expected to speak about George Floyd’s heart condition, which the defense has argued was a contributing factor in his death.

Dr. Rich is an associate professor at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University’s medical school. He attended Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and completed fellowships in cardiology and advanced heart failure and transplant at the University of Chicago Hospital’s Pritzker School of Medicine.

Dr. Rich holds certifications in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology from the American Board of Internal Medicine.

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April 12, 2021, 10:43 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:43 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

We got an update on the timing of the trial: Closing arguments are expected to begin on Monday, a week from today.

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April 12, 2021, 10:41 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:41 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, asked the court for two things related to Sunday’s fatal police shooting near Minneapolis: full sequestration of the jury, and to re-interview each juror about what they know about the shooting and the protests that followed. Judge Cahill denied both motions. “This is a totally different case,” he said.

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April 12, 2021, 10:38 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:38 a.m. ET
Morries Hall appears via video as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discussed motions before the court Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.
Morries Hall appears via video as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discussed motions before the court Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

The defense attorney for Derek Chauvin asked the judge in the murder trial of the former officer to force Morries Lester Hall, an associate of George Floyd who was in a car with him moments before the police arrested Mr. Floyd, to testify.

Mr. Hall’s lawyer told the court last week that his client is hoping to avoid testifying. Mr. Chauvin’s attorney, Eric J. Nelson, argued on Monday that Mr. Hall should be forced to speak about certain aspects of what he witnessed. The judge said he would rule on the motion at 1 p.m. Central time.

At a hearing last week over whether Mr. Hall must testify, his lawyer said that testifying about any of his actions on May 25 had the potential to incriminate him, and that Mr. Hall planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Mr. Hall, who is currently in jail on charges unrelated to Mr. Floyd’s death, appeared in court by video conference, though he spoke only to spell his name and confirm that he had conferred with his lawyer.

Mr. Hall’s lawyer, said that both prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, had subpoenaed Mr. Hall, though Mr. Nelson seemed more interested in calling him to the stand. Mr. Nelson said in court that he wanted to ask Mr. Hall a range of questions, including about whether he had given Mr. Floyd drugs, about the fake $20 bill that a convenience store clerk said Mr. Floyd used, and about why Mr. Hall left Minnesota after Mr. Floyd had died.

Ms. Cousins said that all of those questions could incriminate her client, and Judge Cahill largely seemed to agree. But the judge said there may be a narrow range of questions — possibly on how Mr. Floyd appeared to be acting in the car before the police arrived — that Mr. Hall might be able to answer without incriminating himself. Ms. Cousins strenuously disagreed, saying that even acknowledging that Mr. Hall was in the car with Mr. Floyd on May 25 could be used against him if he were to be charged with a crime based on his actions that day.

For their part, prosecutors seemed most worried about the prospect that Mr. Hall would take the stand and invoke his Fifth Amendment right in front of the jury, perhaps making them further question Mr. Floyd’s actions that day or making them concerned about what is being withheld.

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April 12, 2021, 10:37 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:37 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Here’s our story on Sunday’s police shooting. The defense is asking that the jury be questioned about what they saw or heard about the killing, and notes that one of the jurors is actually from Brooklyn Center, the suburb where the shooting and subsequent protests occurred.

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April 12, 2021, 10:38 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:38 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

In some of these high-profile cases, where public opinion runs high against the defendant, lawyers have argued that a police officer cannot get a fair trial, in part because of pressure on jurors. Nonetheless, many juries have acquitted officers in such cases or been unable to render a verdict.

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April 12, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, said the parties had discussed Sunday’s police shooting in Brooklyn Center, near Minneapolis, in the judge’s chambers earlier this morning, and now in court he is arguing that the jury should be sequestered as a result.

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April 12, 2021, 10:36 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:36 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Nelson is arguing that the unrest following Sunday’s shooting will prompt jury concerns that they themselves will spark violence if they do not return a conviction against Chauvin. He worries that jurors will be reluctant to vote “not guilty” because of the possibility for upheaval in the streets.

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April 12, 2021, 10:30 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:30 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Discussion between the lawyers for both sides and the judge continues this morning before the jury comes in. They are now debating the possible testimony of Morries Lester Hall, a friend of George Floyd’s who was with him at Cup Foods on the day he died. Hall had sometimes provided drugs to Floyd, according to earlier testimony from Floyd’s girlfriend. He has said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself if called to testify.

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April 12, 2021, 10:31 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:31 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

One reason that Hall has said he will invoke the Fifth Amendment is because in Minnesota, drug dealers can face charges of third-degree murder when someone they sell to dies of an overdose. Third-degree murder is one of the charges that Derek Chauvin faces.

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April 12, 2021, 10:14 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:14 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

The judge has also excluded an audio analysis of disputed words spoken by George Floyd, as heard on one of the police body camera videos. The defense has suggested that Floyd said he “ate too many drugs.” The state says he said, “I ain’t do any drugs.” The judge says it is up to the jury to listen and make up their own minds.

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April 12, 2021, 10:09 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:09 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Court is back in session for the third week of the Derek Chauvin trial, and lawyers are arguing, without the jury present, about whether the state can call Seth Stoughton, an academic expert on police use of force. Chauvin’s lawyers want to exclude his testimony, saying it is “cumulative” — meaning that after so many witnesses have already taken the stand and said that what Chauvin did was improper, calling one more witness to say the same thing would be excessive.

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April 12, 2021, 10:11 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:11 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

The judge said he was sympathetic to the defense’s argument. But he said he would allow him to appear, although he will limit what Stoughton will be able to talk about. National standards on use of force are OK, the judge said, but he can’t go into his analysis of the bystander crowd and whether it was a distraction to Chauvin has he was subduing George Floyd on the street, as the defense has argued.

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April 12, 2021, 7:52 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 7:52 a.m. ET
A crowd confronted the police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Sunday after an officer shot a Black man who later died.
A crowd confronted the police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Sunday after an officer shot a Black man who later died.Credit…Liam James Doyle for The New York Times

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — The death of a 20-year-old Black man who was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday sent hundreds of people into the streets where they clashed with police officers into the morning.

The protests in Brooklyn Center came hours before the 11th day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with murdering George Floyd, was set to begin in a courtroom less than 10 miles away.

Outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Sunday night, smoke billowed into the air as a line of police officers fired rubber bullets and chemical agents at protesters, some of whom lobbed rocks, bags of garbage and water bottles at the police. Brooklyn Center’s mayor ordered a curfew until 6 a.m., and the local school superintendent said the district would move to remote learning on Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”

A woman who said she was the victim’s mother identified him as Daunte Wright, 20. The woman, Katie Wright, told reporters that her son had been driving a car that his family had just given him two weeks ago and that he had called her as he was being pulled over.

Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said an officer had shot the man on Sunday afternoon after pulling his car over for a traffic violation and discovering that the driver had a warrant out for his arrest. As the police tried to detain the man, he stepped back into his car, at which point an officer shot him, Chief Gannon said.

The man’s car then traveled for several blocks and struck another vehicle, after which the police and medical workers pronounced him dead. Chief Gannon did not give any information on the officer who fired or say how severe the crash had been, though the passengers in the other car were not injured. The chief said he believed that officers’ body cameras had been turned on during the shooting.

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April 12, 2021, 7:52 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 7:52 a.m. ET
Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner who performed the initial autopsy of George Floyd, testified that while police restraint was the main cause of Mr. Floyd's death, drug use and heart disease were contributing factors.
Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner who performed the initial autopsy of George Floyd, testified that while police restraint was the main cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, drug use and heart disease were contributing factors.Credit… via Court TV

The first week of the Derek Chauvin trial was marked by emotional accounts from bystanders who witnessed the nine and a half minutes that the police pinned George Floyd to the ground. But the second week struck a different chord, highlighting testimony from medical and law enforcement experts that centered on the conduct of Mr. Chauvin and the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death.

Those witnesses hit on the key issues of the trial: what exactly killed Mr. Floyd, and whether Mr. Chauvin violated police policies on use of force. The answers to those two questions will be crucial for Mr. Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis last May.

Several medical witnesses testified that Mr. Floyd died from a deprivation of oxygen — contradicting claims by the defense lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, who has sought to tie Mr. Floyd’s death to complications from drug use and a heart condition. Law enforcement officials, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, said Mr. Chauvin violated police policy when he used his knee to keep Mr. Floyd pinned to the street.

One of the most anticipated witnesses of the trial, the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the initial autopsy of George Floyd, testified on Friday that while police restraint was the main cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, drug use and heart disease were contributing factors.

The medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, declared Mr. Floyd’s death a homicide in his autopsy, but had made several statements leading up to the trial that could have complicated the arguments of the prosecution, particularly in relation to Mr. Floyd’s drug use. He ultimately concluded on the stand that “in my opinion, the law enforcement, subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions.”

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April 8, 2021, 10:57 a.m. ETApril 8, 2021, 10:57 a.m. ET

As the trial enters a phase where George Floyd’s cause of death will take center stage, we talked with several forensic pathologists uninvolved in the case to explain some of the terms used in the proceedings, how they determine the cause and manner of death and how this relates to the case. Here is what we learned.

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April 8, 2021, 10:10 a.m. ETApril 8, 2021, 10:10 a.m. ET
Kyree Wilson, 16, the student council vice president at North Community High School, said the witness accounts in the Derek Chauvin trial have been “kind of hard to sit through.”Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

In Minneapolis, educators have grappled over the last few weeks with how to talk with their students about the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death.

Some teachers have shown segments of the televised trial in class and used jury selection or witness testimony as an opportunity to explore the complex issues of race, policing and the criminal justice system. Others have cautiously given students the chance to ask questions and share their opinions. And school administrators and counselors have scheduled talking circles, where children can open up about how the trial has rekindled feelings of racial trauma and fears of potential unrest stirred by the sound of helicopters flying over the city.

But the adult nature of the televised murder trial, marked by graphic videos and emotional eyewitness accounts, poses a challenge for educators, even as they say the court proceedings are too important to ignore.

“We have to engage even if we’re uncomfortable and we don’t have the answers,” said Kristi Ward, the principal for third through eighth graders at Lake Nokomis Community School in south Minneapolis.

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April 7, 2021, 2:16 p.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 2:16 p.m. ET
A boarded-up bank building across the street from the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of Derek Chauvin is taking place.
A boarded-up bank building across the street from the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of Derek Chauvin is taking place.Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

Midway through the second week of the trial of Derek Chauvin, more than 20 witnesses have already taken the stand for the state. Next, the defense will present their witnesses, before the trial moves into closing arguments and, finally, jury deliberation.

Witness testimony is expected to last at least through the end of next week. On Friday, Judge Peter A. Cahill dismissed court early, saying that the trial was ahead of schedule.

Jury selection — eight days of intense questioning to potential jurors about their political biases and views on racism and policing — began on March 9. Ultimately, 12 jury members and two alternates were chosen.

Both sides delivered opening statements on March 29, which were followed by the prosecution calling their witnesses to the stand. Each witness is questioned by the state, then cross-examined by the defense. Questioning goes back and forth between the state and the defense.

Each side submitted a list of potential witnesses to the judge ahead of the trial: The state submitted the names of 363 potential witnesses, and the defense listed 212, but it’s unclear how many will actually appear.

Closing arguments could come as soon as the week of April 19, then the jury will begin deliberating. The jury can take as long as it needs to deliver a verdict.

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March 29, 2021, 8:49 a.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 8:49 a.m. ET
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How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody

The Times has reconstructed the death of George Floyd on May 25. Security footage, witness videos and official documents show how a series of actions by officers turned fatal. (This video contains scenes of graphic violence.)

It’s a Monday evening in Minneapolis. Police respond to a call about a man who allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Seventeen minutes later, the man they are there to investigate lies motionless on the ground, and is pronounced dead shortly after. The man was 46-year-old George Floyd, a bouncer originally from Houston who had lost his job at a restaurant when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Crowd: “No justice, no peace.” Floyd’s death triggered major protests in Minneapolis, and sparked rage across the country. One of the officers involved, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The other three officers have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. The Times analyzed bystander videos, security camera footage and police scanner audio, spoke to witnesses and experts, and reviewed documents released by the authorities to build as comprehensive a picture as possible and better understand how George Floyd died in police custody. The events of May 25 begin here. Floyd is sitting in the driver’s seat of this blue S.U.V. Across the street is a convenience store called Cup Foods. Footage from this restaurant security camera helps us understand what happens next. Note that the timestamp on the camera is 24 minutes fast. At 7:57 p.m., two employees from Cup Foods confront Floyd and his companions about an alleged counterfeit bill he just used in their store to buy cigarettes. They demand the cigarettes back but walk away empty-handed. Four minutes later, they call the police. According to the 911 transcript, an employee says that Floyd used fake bills to buy cigarettes, and that he is “awfully drunk” and “not in control of himself.” Soon, the first police vehicle arrives on the scene. Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng step out of the car and approach the blue S.U.V. Seconds later, Lane pulls his gun. We don’t know exactly why. He orders Floyd to put his hands on the wheel. Lane reholsters the gun, and after about 90 seconds of back and forth, yanks Floyd out of the S.U.V. A man is filming the confrontation from a car parked behind them. The officers cuff Floyd’s hands behind his back. And Kueng walks him to the restaurant wall. “All right, what’s your name?” From the 911 transcript and the footage, we now know three important facts: First, that the police believed they were responding to a man who was drunk and out of control. But second, even though the police were expecting this situation, we can see that Floyd has not acted violently. And third, that he seems to already be in distress. Six minutes into the arrest, the two officers move Floyd back to their vehicle. As the officers approach their car, we can see Floyd fall to the ground. According to the criminal complaints filed against the officers, Floyd says he is claustrophobic and refuses to enter the police car. During the struggle, Floyd appears to turn his head to address the officers multiple times. According to the complaints, he tells them he can’t breathe. Nine minutes into the arrest, the third and final police car arrives on the scene. It’s carrying officers Tou Thao and Derek Chauvin. Both have previous records of complaints brought against them. Thao was once sued for throwing a man to the ground and hitting him. Chauvin has been involved in three police shootings, one of them fatal. Chauvin becomes involved in the struggle to get Floyd into the car. Security camera footage from Cup Foods shows Kueng struggling with Floyd in the backseat while Thao watches. Chauvin pulls him through the back seat and onto the street. We don’t know why. Floyd is now lying on the pavement, face down. That’s when two witnesses begin filming, almost simultaneously. The footage from the first witness shows us that all four officers are now gathered around Floyd. It’s the first moment when we can clearly see that Floyd is face down on the ground, with three officers applying pressure to his neck, torso and legs. At 8:20 p.m., we hear Floyd’s voice for the first time. The video stops when Lane appears to tell the person filming to walk away. “Get off to the sidewalk, please. One side or the other, please.” The officers radio a Code 2, a call for non-emergency medical assistance, reporting an injury to Floyd’s mouth. In the background, we can hear Floyd struggling. The call is quickly upgraded to a Code 3, a call for emergency medical assistance. By now another bystander, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, is filming from a different angle. Her footage shows that despite calls for medical help, Chauvin keeps Floyd pinned down for another seven minutes. We can’t see whether Kueng and Lane are still applying pressure. Floyd: [gasping] Officer: “What do you want?” Bystander: “I’ve been –” Floyd: [gasping] In the two videos, Floyd can be heard telling officers that he can’t breathe at least 16 times in less than five minutes. Bystander: “You having fun?” But Chauvin never takes his knee off of Floyd, even as his eyes close and he appears to go unconscious. Bystander: “Bro.” According to medical and policing experts, these four police officers are committing a series of actions that violate policies, and in this case, turn fatal. They’ve kept Floyd lying face down, applying pressure for at least five minutes. This combined action is likely compressing his chest and making it impossible to breathe. Chauvin is pushing his knee into Floyd’s neck, a move banned by most police departments. Minneapolis Police Department policy states an officer can only do this if someone is, quote, “actively resisting.” And even though the officers call for medical assistance, they take no action to treat Floyd on their own while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Officer: “Get back on the sidewalk.” According to the complaints against the officers, Lane asks him twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side. Chauvin says no. Twenty minutes into the arrest, an ambulance arrives on the scene. Bystander: “Get off of his neck!” Bystander: “He’s still on him?” The E.M.T.s check Floyd’s pulse. Bystander: “Are you serious?” Chauvin keeps his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost another whole minute, even though Floyd appears completely unresponsive. He only gets off once the E.M.T.s tell him to. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, according to our review of the video evidence. Floyd is loaded into the ambulance. The ambulance leaves the scene, possibly because a crowd is forming. But the E.M.T.s call for additional medical help from the fire department. But when the engine arrives, the officers give them, quote, “no clear info on Floyd or his whereabouts,” according to a fire department incident report. This delays their ability to help the paramedics. Meanwhile, Floyd is going into cardiac arrest. It takes the engine five minutes to reach Floyd in the ambulance. He’s pronounced dead at a nearby hospital around 9:25 p.m. Preliminary autopsies conducted by the state and Floyd’s family both ruled his death a homicide. The widely circulated arrest videos don’t paint the entire picture of what happened to George Floyd. Crowd: “Floyd! Floyd!” Additional video and audio from the body cameras of the key officers would reveal more about why the struggle began and how it escalated. The city quickly fired all four officers. And Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting murder. But outrage over George Floyd’s death has only spread further and further across the United States.

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The Times has reconstructed the death of George Floyd on May 25. Security footage, witness videos and official documents show how a series of actions by officers turned fatal. (This video contains scenes of graphic violence.)

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.

By combining videos from bystanders and security cameras, reviewing official documents and consulting experts, The New York Times reconstructed in detail the minutes leading to Mr. Floyd’s death. Our video shows officers taking a series of actions that violated the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department and turned fatal, leaving Mr. Floyd unable to breathe, even as he and onlookers called out for help.

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March 29, 2021, 8:15 a.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 8:15 a.m. ET
Patrons and employees at Urban Touch Barbers & Salon watch the trial of Derek Chauvin on televisions.
Patrons and employees at Urban Touch Barbers & Salon watch the trial of Derek Chauvin on televisions.Credit…Aaron Nesheim 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.

The trial can be watched on nytimes.com, via a livestream provided by Court TV, which is also airing the trial in full. Witness testimony and lawyers’ presentations of evidence should last several weeks before the jury begins 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 only 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, including from The New York Times, are 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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