The highly anticipated murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is underway amid heavy security inside a barricaded Minnesota courthouse.
Derek Chauvin, 45, is facing third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25 death at a Minneapolis intersection.
Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, the lead prosecutor on the case, is expected to focus heavily on the viral video of Floyd’s death and may air it as soon as his opening statements at the trial Monday.
“If you’re a prosecutor you want to start off strong,” former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer, managing director of Berkeley Research Group in Chicago. “You want to frame the argument — and nothing frames the argument in this case as much as that video.”
Defense attorney Eric Nelson is expected to argue that Chauvin, who is seen on the footage pressing his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, did not cause his death.
Rather, Nelson has argued in court papers that Floyd died as a result of drugs he ingested and a pre-existing heart condition, not just the knee to his neck.
A coroner’s autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system but ruled his death a homicide — as did an independent autopsy.
Floyd’s family contends that Chauvin is solely responsible for his death.
“What killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force,” Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said outside the courthouse Monday.