“He looks absolutely nothing like a person who died from an opioid overdose,” he added.
Blackwell argued that Floyd would not have been communicating during his arrest were he suffering from a drug overdose at the time. Instead, Floyd’s death was a direct result of Chauvin’s use of force, he said.
Chauvin “was well aware that Mr. Floyd was unarmed, that Mr. Floyd had not threatened anyone, that Mr. Floyd was in handcuffs; he was completely in the control of the police,” Blackwell said.
Nelson argued that the evidence showed Floyd died of “cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body.”
Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020, after three police officers, including Chauvin, pinned him facedown on the ground outside a convenience store. Store clerks had called 911 minutes earlier and accused Floyd of using a $20 counterfeit bill.
Bystander video recorded on a cellphone and viewed millions of times around the world showed Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd, who is Black, repeatedly stated that he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd’s death sparked months of nationwide protests against police brutality and resulted in a worldwide reckoning with racial injustice.
Following opening arguments, the prosecution called its first witness to the stand: Jena Scurry, a 911 dispatcher for the city of Minneapolis. She had been monitoring Floyd’s arrest via a police surveillance camera and alerted a police sergeant to voice her concerns about what she was seeing.
“My instincts were telling me that something was wrong,” Scurry testified. “It was a gut instinct in the incident, something is not going right.”
The trial is being held in the 18th-floor courtroom of the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. Metal fencing has been erected around the building in anticipation of protests during and after the high-profile trial. National Guard troops could be seen Monday guarding the perimeter.
“This is the way America treats Black people,” she said of instances of police brutality. “And you know, it’s really sad because … we built this country. All we want is respect.”
Members of Floyd’s family and their attorneys gathered outside the government center earlier Monday ahead of the opening arguments to speak to a small crowd of reporters and supporters.
“Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all,” said Ben Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family. “This trial will prove if we live up to the belief that all men are created equal.”
Adam Goldberg contributed reporting from Minneapolis.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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