Trial of Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Underway

Image Courtesy of NBC News

Image Courtesy of NBC News

Tyler Dyer, Staff Writer

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is underway in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The former police officer is charged with second-and third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. The process of this case included jury selection at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. The trial proceedings will span for another two to four weeks, ending around mid-to late-April. Both the defense and the prosecution will refer to evidence, call witnesses and after arguments are presented, the jury will deliberate until a unanimous verdict is agreed upon, which could take weeks or months.

Minnesota law states that second-and third-degree murder charges include homicide caused by disregard for human life or negligence. The sentences can be up to 40 and 25 years in prison, respectively. If Chauvin is convicted, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled for a later date and he will have the right to appeal. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty which raises the question of whether Mr. Chauvin will appeal a possible conviction.

His defense team continues to maintain his innocence arguing that he followed protocol and acted appropriately in that situation. Defense attorney Eric Nelson remarked in his opening statement “You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career,”. Explaining that Minnesota law does allow the use of deadly force if an officer “believes that the person will cause death or great bodily harm to another person.”

The prosecutors presented their case and called the first 3 witnesses to the stand. With no hesitation, the graphic video from the bystander of Floyd’s death played in the trial’s opening statements. All 9 minutes and 29 seconds of the video with audio of the witnesses urging Chauvin to get off Floyd’s neck and Floyd gasping “I can’t breathe” 27 times was played.

A case as high profile as this often strikes at the heart of many people sparking protests and rallies. This was evident on Monday evening when approximately 30 journalists and 200 protesters stood outside the county building to demand justice for George Floyd. In the speaker’s minds, Chauvin’s attorneys were blaming Floyd for his own death. Lamar Pettis, a 38-year-old black man, and protester said, “You would think the trial was for George and it isn’t – it’s for the police officer,” As this trial continues, a conversation on racial justice will be ongoing among all groups of people around the world.