August 3, 2021

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Derek Chauvin Trial Day 1: Live Updates and Analysis – The New York Times

30 min read

The defense is arguing that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by his underlying heart disease, drug use and “adrenaline.”

Both sides have highlighted that Dr. Andrew Baker, the local medical examiner, will be testifying. It’s unlikely there will be any fireworks during his testimony, which will focus on what caused George Floyd’s death, but it could be one of the most important moments of the trial for jurors.

Nelson refers to interviews Dr. Baker gave to law enforcement officials that could be problematic to the state. In one FBI interview, according to court filings, he suggested Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by the struggle to get him inside the squad car, not being on the ground under Mr. Chauvin’s knee.

There’s a noticeable difference between Mr. Nelson’s demeanor during his opening right now compared to jury selection. When questioning jurors, he appeared friendly and tried to get jurors to relax, asking them about their hobbies. Today he is serious, stern, blunt and in command of the case as he sees it.

The prosecution will argue that the officers acted unreasonably, and in violation of their training and police procedure. Mr. Nelson is trying to head this off, emphasizing the fluid nature of police deicison-making in changing conditions: “You will learn that Derek Chauvin was doing exactly what he had been trained to do during the course of his 19-year career.”

Juries, and officials, have typically given the police the benefit of the doubt when officers have to make split-second decisions, like when a suspect appears to be reaching for his waistband. But it will be a hard argument to make here because of the sheer duration of the episode.

Nelson says the anger of the growing crowd of bystanders diverted officers from attending to Mr. Floyd.

Interesting argument. Nelson is essentially saying that the crowd was somewhat at fault for Chauvin’s actions.

An image taken from video of Eric J. Nelson.
Credit…Court TV, via Associated Press

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson is one of a dozen defense attorneys in Minneapolis who represent police officers charged with misconduct and work on a rotation basis. Mr. Nelson, 46, took charge of Mr. Chauvin’s defense last summer, after the former officer’s first lawyer retired.

Before taking on Mr. Chauvin’s case, Mr. Nelson’s most famous client was Amy Senser, the wife of the former Minnesota Vikings tight end Joe Senser. She was convicted of vehicular homicide for a 2011 hit-and-run accident that left a man dead near a freeway exit ramp and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

He has also defended a former high school basketball star for his role in a bank robbery, and a pastor who was charged with soliciting a prostitute after getting caught in a sting operation.

Over his career, Mr. Nelson has developed a specialty in defending clients accused of driving while intoxicated and has lectured on D.W.I. law and the manufacturing of methamphetamine, according to his bio on his law firm’s website.

Over the last three weeks of jury selection, Mr. Nelson appeared in court each day with Mr. Chauvin and an assistant, Amy Voss. The three people on the defense side of the courtroom was a sharp contrast to the multiple lawyers who have appeared so far for the prosecution, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and several high-powered outside lawyers who are working pro bono for the state, including Neal Katyal, a Washington, D.C. lawyer and former acting solicitor general during the Obama Administration.

Yet Mr. Nelson has not been working alone: other lawyers who regularly represent police officers in Minneapolis have been helping him behind-the-scenes, including the defense attorneys for the other three officers involved in the incident that led to Mr. Floyd’s death. Those officers face aiding and abetting charges, and are scheduled to face trial in August. Mr. Chauvin’s defense is paid through the legal defense fund of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officer’s Association.

Mr. Nelson, building an argument that the use of force against Mr. Floyd was reasonable, is saying jurors will see video of the squad car he was put in before the neck restraint by Mr. Chauvin rocking back and forth. “This was not an easy struggle.”

The defense is saying that Mr. Floyd was passed out in a car before the police showed up, and his friends were trying to wake him up. This would support the defense argument that he was on a high dose of drugs.

Jurors — and the public — will at some point see surveillance video from inside the Cup Foods convenience store where George Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin says. It has never been played publicly before.

Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, says there are more than 50,000 items in evidence. “This case is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” he says. That’s a direct response to prosecutors’ arguments that the time Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck is the “most important” number in the case.

“There is no political or social cause in this courtroom,” Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, says. He is trying to focus the jury on the specifics of the evidence and steer them away from the wider issues of race and policing in America that the case symbolizes to the world outside the courtroom.

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer begins his opening arguments with the notion of “reasonable doubt.” He needs one juror to buy in to the idea that drugs killed Mr. Floyd, not Mr. Chauvin’s knee, to hang the jury and force a mistrial.

The prosecutor is trying to head off arguments from the defense that George Floyd’s size had anything to do with his death — “his size is no excuse,” he said. George Floyd was already more than six feet tall in middle school and he rapped under the name Big Floyd with popular DJs and rappers in Houston.

Mr. Floyd told the officers he did not want to get into their squad car because he was claustrophobic. The prosecution will say that we will see Mr. Chauvin with his hands around Mr. Floyd’s neck in the squad car.

As Blackwell started discussing cause of death, Chauvin started furiously taking notes on a yellow legal pad. Periodically during jury selection, Chauvin would put his head down and scribble away.

The scene outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis during the first day of the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin.
Credit…Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

Less than an hour into the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd, prosecutors played the bystander video of Mr. Chauvin holding his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck that brought international attention to the case in May.

The lengthy video footage, captured outside the Cup Foods convenience store, will most likely be a major part of prosecutors’ strategy. As difficult as it may be for jurors to watch Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, it is probably far from the last time that the video will be played at the trial.

“You can believe your eyes that it’s a homicide — it’s murder,” Jerry W. Blackwell, the prosecutor delivering opening arguments, said shortly after playing the video.

The defense will try to argue that Mr. Floyd took a fatal amount of fentanyl, but now Mr. Blackwell is saying that is not true, that he had built up a tolerance and was not exhibiting signs of overdose. “Mr Floyd had lived with his opioid addiction for years…he was struggling, he was not passing out.”

Prosecutors want the jurors focused on what they saw in the video. The defense will try to convince them that what appears simple is more complicated – that Mr. Floyd died of a drug overdose and an underlying health condition.

He tells jurors that the video says it all: “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide, it’s murder.”

Mr. Blackwell is talking about police training, especially the “side recovery position.” Even if officers have to restrain someone on their stomach, they are supposed to move them to their side as soon as possible.

Protesters carried a banner past Minneapolis City Hall demanding justice for George Floyd earlier this month.
Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

The 12-member jury for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd includes two white men, four white women, three Black men, one Black women and two women who identify as mixed race, according to information provided by the court.

The racial makeup of the jury has been closely watched.

Mr. Chauvin is white, and Mr. Floyd was Black. The pool of potential jurors in Hennepin County is whiter than the population of Minneapolis and has grown more so during the pandemic.

But the jury will be more diverse than Minneapolis, which is 20 percent Black.

The Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure say that the alternates will be the last three jurors chosen, two white women and a white man in his 20s. Only two of them will be seated when the trial begins.

From the start, many worried that it would be impossible to seat an impartial jury in Minneapolis for a case that provoked wide-scale unrest and reverberated around the world.

Prospective jurors were asked about answers they provided on a 14-page questionnaire that asked their views on a wide range of topics including Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and whether the criminal justice system is racially discriminatory. Those who expressed opinions said they could set them aside and rule according to the evidence presented at trial.

Jury selection was set to take three weeks, and jurors that had already been chosen had to be called back and questioned again after the city announced a $27 million settlement with Mr. Floyd’s estate. Despite that delay, jury selection ended several days ahead of schedule.

As painful as the video is to watch, expect to see it again during the trial. A few weeks ago I asked a former Minneapolis prosecutor now in private practice what her strategy would be. She told me, “I would play that video in the beginning of the case, at the end of my case and as many times in the middle of the case that the judge would allow.”

This video. This is what the Rev. Al Sharpton meant when he said last night at a local church here in Minneapolis, with members of the Floyd family: “This family will go through a very painful and very tumultuous few weeks.”

And now jurors are seeing a portion of the 10-minute bystander video that has been viewed by millions. They are hearing Mr. Floyd cry out and say, “I’m through.”

Now Mr. Chauvin is watching intently as the video shows bystanders yelling at him to get off Mr. Floyd because he has stopped breathing.

Mr. Chauvin is looking up as the video is shown and back at his desk to take notes.

Most of the jurors had seen at least clips of this video; few if any said they had seen the entire thing.

Cup Foods and Dragon Wok — Mr. Blackwell is showing a map of the intersection that began as a crime scene and has been transformed into George Floyd Square.

Blackwell says he will show the video of Officer Chauvin restraining George Floyd shortly, and warned that it is graphic — as the jurors, and most of the world, well knows.

Blackwell has been listing the experts and witnesses the state will call over the course of the trial. This is what an opening statement is for: laying out a roadmap for jurors of what to expect over the coming days and weeks.

The prosecutor making opening arguments is making it clear that the prosecution is not trying to put police, or even the Minneapolis Police Department, on trial. “This case is about Derek Chauvin,” he says, not the police in general.

A number of the jurors expressed generally favorable views of the police, even though they also said things like the “bad behavior police need to go.”

A prosecutor just showed the counterfeit $20 bill that a clerk at Cup Foods said George Floyd had tried to use. That teenage clerk’s 911 call is what brought the police to the scene in the first place.

Use of force by the police is supposed to be relative to the severity of the alleged offense. Blackwell mentions the fake $20 bill and calls it a minor offense. Chauvin’s lawyer has tried to get the judge to instruct jurors that Floyd was suspected of a serious felony

While there may be surprises over the course of the trial for viewers, the lawyers on both sides know exactly what is coming and what witnesses will say. Minnesota has strict rules that require both sides to turn over evidence and testimony before trial. (This may be why Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer is not furiously scribbling notes during the state’s opening.)

Even as public officials were still saying last year that Officer Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, our Times colleagues on the visual investigations team were able to determine in August that the correct time was closer to 9 minutes and 30 seconds.

An image taken from video of Jerry Blackwell.
Credit…Court TV, via Associated Press

The lawyer making opening arguments for the prosecution is Jerry W. Blackwell, a lawyer who has represented a series of large companies and joined the attorney general’s office just for this case on a pro bono basis, meaning he will not be paid.

In private practice, Mr. Blackwell has represented corporations including Walmart, 3M Company and General Mills, according to the website for his firm, Blackwell Burke, which is based in Minnesota. He has defended companies against lawsuits by people who said they were injured by asbestos, benzene and other potentially harmful chemicals. He has also represented companies in cases involving claims of false advertising.

Mr. Blackwell is known for his ability to untangle complicated legal issues for jurors, the website says, which could be vital in the prosecution of Mr. Chauvin, where jurors will have to evaluate the elements of second-degree and third-degree murder.

Last June, Mr. Blackwell won a posthumous pardon for Max Mason, a Black circus worker who was wrongly convicted of rape in 1920, months after three of his colleagues were lynched as a result of the false accusations. Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general overseeing the prosecution of Mr. Chauvin, had encouraged Mr. Blackwell to apply for the pardon, and he brought him on board for the Chauvin trial a month later.

Mr. Blackwell earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1987, his website says, and was one of the founders of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

I’ve already lost count of how many times the prosecutor has said “9 minutes and 29 seconds.”

Blackwell is now saying that a police response that’s reasonable in the first minute may not continue to be reasonable in the second, third or fourth minute — in other words, even if Mr. Floyd was resisting, the restraint went on far too long.

Mr. Blackwell is now making a medical point: Just because you can talk doesn’t mean you are getting enough air. It’s called “agonal breathing.”

Mr. Blackwell, one of the prosecutors, says the “most important” number jurors will hear in the trial is 9 minutes and 29 seconds, which is the time that Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. That time is longer than the incorrect time of 8 minutes and 46 seconds that was initially reported and became a rallying cry for protesters.

8:46 remains a protest rallying cry. Last night at a prayer vigil in Minneapolis for the Floyd family, 8:46 was referred to by Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family attorney, as the time Mr. Chauvin kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

The first image of Mr. Floyd’s death the prosecution showed was of Mr. Chauvin appearing to look at the bystanders, looking nonchalant. During jury selection, many prospective jurors remarked about the look on Mr. Chauvin’s face, with one saying it was “hateful.”

Jurors just saw their first glimpse of the video at the center of the case, and the prosecution used their zoom tool to great effect — they started tight on Mr. Chauvin and zoomed out to show him kneeling on Mr. Floyd.

This came right after the prosecutor, Mr. Blackwell, told jurors that officers take an oath to serve courteously, “never employing unnecessary force or violence.”

Ben Crump, a lawyer for the family of George Floyd, center, addressing the news media along with other lawyers and family members outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Monday.
Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

A helicopter whirred overhead on a sunny, yet chilly and windy morning on Monday in downtown Minneapolis, where the streets were largely empty and calm ahead of the big trial.

A scrum of reporters gathered on the lawn just south of the courthouse, where members of Mr. Floyd’s family and their lawyers held a news conference ahead of opening statements. Terrence Floyd, one of Mr. Floyd’s brothers, reflected on experiencing the emotions of another high-profile police killing when Sean Bell was fatally shot in Queens, near where Terrence Floyd lived.

“To see no justice in that situation, it made me furious,” Mr. Floyd said, referring to the acquittal of all of the officers in that case. He hoped that things would be different in the case involving the death of his brother.

“They say trust the system,” he said. “Well this is your chance to show us we can trust you.”

In the distance, you could hear the faint chants of a few protesters. Several people lined up behind the Floyd family holding signs of the support.

“We got your back” and “stronger together,” the signs read.

A national guardsman paced in the distance on a balcony outside of the courthouse that overlooked the lawn. There were temporary concrete and metal barricades encircling some of the government buildings downtown, and national guard members stood alongside state police officers. There were also sand-colored armored vehicles sitting outside.

“We need to pray that America can live up to its high ideals,” said Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the Floyd family.

At 8:46 a.m., the Floyd family and supporters took a knee for 8 minutes 46 seconds in recognition of the approximate amount of time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

“I apologize for talking to you through this plexiglass,” says Jerry W. Blackwell, one of the lawyers with the prosecution, beginning his opening arguments. The court has been outfitted with many Covid-19 precaution measures to allow the trial to move forward.

Jurors are seated one side of the courtroom in a socially distanced manner, in the space normally reserved for spectators. Because of the pandemic, only two spectators are allowed in the courtroom each day: a Floyd family member and a Chauvin family member.

On many days during jury selection, a Floyd family member was in attendance. No one from Mr. Chauvin’s family attended the weeks of jury selection. We don’t know yet who are in the family seats today.

Judge Cahill has tried as much as possible to keep the publicity, the protests, and the worldwide reaction outside the courtroom. But there’s no doubt about the symbolic stakes here.

Judge Peter A. Cahill has returned from recess and is now instructing the jurors who are expected to decide the verdict in the case.

Minnesota National Guard stand guard outside the Hennepin County Government Center before the opening statement of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on March 29, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Credit…Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, began in earnest on Monday morning, commencing what is expected to be one of the most closely-followed trials in recent years.

“We’re on the record,” Judge Peter A. Cahill said at about 9 a.m. Central Time before going over a motion and the schedule with prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.

He said that court will generally begin at 8:30 a.m. each day, with discussions between the lawyers and judge over any legal issues that arise. Then the jury will be brought into the courtroom around 9:30. There will be a one-hour lunch break at 12:30 and the proceedings will generally last until 4:30 p.m., though they could be extended if it allows a witness to finish testifying.

Here is background on the jury and its racial makeup as they enter the courtroom.

Derek Chauvin, the former police officer, in a booking photograph at the Ramsey County Detention Center in St. Paul, Minn., last May.
Credit…Ramsey County Detention Center

Derek Chauvin had been a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for more than 19 years before George Floyd’s death. During that time, he was the subject of at least 22 complaints and internal investigations. One of the episodes led to two letters of reprimand — his only formal discipline.

Mr. Chauvin, 44, worked in one of Minneapolis’s busiest precincts on its most difficult shift, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., long after many officers his age had moved to different positions. He earned several awards, including two medals of valor after separate confrontations in which he shot at suspects, one of whom died.

Mr. Chauvin, who is white, was filmed on May 25 last year holding his knee on the neck of a Black motorist, George Floyd, for more than nine minutes as Mr. Floyd pleaded with him and repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

Mr. Chauvin was fired the next day, along with three other officers who had arrived at Cup Foods, a convenience store, after a teenage clerk called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill. In October, Mr. Chauvin was freed on bail while awaiting trial, having posted $100,000 through a bail bond agency. He was initially required to remain in Minnesota, but later was allowed to live in any of the four bordering states (Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota) because of concerns for his safety.

In the weeks after Mr. Chauvin was fired, protesters gathered at his house in the St. Paul suburbs, his wife of 10 years filed for divorce. Interviews with his acquaintances depicted him as an awkward and rigid workaholic who had a tendency to overreact.

Examples of Mr. Chauvin’s police work will most likely be presented at his trial. Prosecutors are expected to tell jurors about his arrest of a Black woman who has said that Mr. Chauvin kept his knee on her body while she was handcuffed and facedown on the ground and pleading, “Don’t kill me.”

In another interaction considered relevant, Mr. Chauvin saved a suicidal man’s life by placing him on his side and riding with him to a hospital.

The Police Department commended Mr. Chauvin for the latter action, but prosecutors have argued that it shows he knew it was important to avoid creating breathing problems for people who were restrained.

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‘I Need Justice for George,’ Floyd’s Brother Says on Eve of Chauvin Trial

George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, and a family lawyer, Ben Crump, spoke in Minneapolis on Sunday night ahead of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in George Floyd’s death.

This world is divided. We need to come together. That’s the only way that we will get justice for George. Because I have a big hole right now in my heart. It can’t be patched up. No amount of money that you give, none of that, it can’t patch that. I need justice for George. We need a conviction. Murder is not murder until somebody is charged for it. So, the four officers, they all need to be held accountable. You can’t sweep this under the rug. Four police officers killed one man. He was upright and he was fine, until they put him in a prone position, face down, with his hands behind his back, with a man with his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as he took the soul of my brother’s body. As he begged for his momma, he said, tell my kids I love them. No man should have to do that. No man. We live in a world where people can perform a execution, a modern-day execution, in broad daylight. Times have got to change now. We are thankful to all the protesters, all the activists, everybody in America, everybody around the world who said, “Until we get justice for George Floyd, none of us can breathe.” Preferably at the end of this trial, we can all exhale together for George Floyd, give him the breath that was denied to him by Derek Chauvin.

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George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, and a family lawyer, Ben Crump, spoke in Minneapolis on Sunday night ahead of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in George Floyd’s death.CreditCredit…Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd Jr., urged the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin to find the former police officer guilty for his brother’s death.

“I have a big hole in my heart,” he said Sunday at a news conference. “It can’t be patched up. No amount of money that you give, none of that, can patch that. I need justice for George. We need a conviction.”

The city of Minneapolis settled a lawsuit with Mr. Floyd’s family before the trial, agreeing to pay them $27 million in connection to Mr. Floyd’s death, one of the largest such settlements on record.

The younger Floyd has been one of the most visible family members advocating for justice in his brother’s death, including testifying to Congress in July on police brutality and systemic racism. His brother was the eldest of five siblings.

Michael Barbaro, the host of “The Daily,” speaks with Shaila Dewan, a reporter covering criminal justice for The New York Times, about what we know about the prosecution, the defense and the jury ahead of the opening statements in the trial of the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Trial of Derek Chauvin

What we know about the prosecution, defense and jury in the trial of the former police officer accused of murdering a Black man in Minneapolis.

Listen to more audio stories about the movements fueled by Mr. Floyd’s death:

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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.

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed in May. 
Credit…Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd will be unusual for many reasons: It will be livestreamed from Minneapolis, attendance will be 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. Opening statements are expected to begin around 10:30 a.m. Eastern on Monday. Witness testimony and lawyers’ presentation 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 will be reserved for reporters, and various journalists, including from The New York Times, will rotate throughout the trial.

The lawyers, spectators, jurors and witnesses will be 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.

The site of the Derek Chauvin trial, the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, earlier this month.
Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

MINNEAPOLIS — Opening statements in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, begin Monday morning in a heavily fortified courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.

The trial begins 10 months after Mr. Floyd, a Black man, died last May after being held down by police officers on a South Minneapolis street corner in an episode that was captured on a cellphone video and set off protests for racial justice around the nation. Mr. Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, ignoring Mr. Floyd’s repeated pleas that he could not breathe and his cries for his mother.

For a country that rarely holds police officers accountable for killing people on the job, especially Black people, the trial is a test of whether the criminal justice system has changed after Mr. Floyd’s death. The case is the most pivotal police brutality trial since the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in the early 1990s.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing struggle to reform policing and push the nation forward on matters of racial justice, the trial will be fought on the narrower grounds of toxicology reports, medical records and police training manuals. Mr. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Above all, the case is likely to turn on one central question: What caused Mr. Floyd’s death?

The centerpiece of Mr. Chauvin’s defense strategy, as laid out in motions and pretrial arguments, is making the case that Mr. Floyd died of a drug overdose — a toxicology report showed fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system — complicated by underlying health conditions.

The prosecution will try to convince the jury that Mr. Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for so long was a substantial factor in his death, regardless of the amount of drugs in his system, and his health problems.

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