In a first for Minnesota, opening statements are set to begin today in the former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial, 10 months after the death of George Floyd while he was under his knee, resulting in a summer of protest and unrest.
The entire trial will be broadcasted live so that citizens will get a rare peek into this important case since the Black Lives Matter era began.
Chauvin, 45, plead not guilty to third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges.
After viewing the disturbing video of Floyd’s final moments, prosecutors said Chauvin unintentionally killed Floyd as he used excessive force on May 25, 2020 during an arrest. The Defense attorneys plan to show that Floyd died of unrelated medical issues and drug use, and they also said Chauvin had followed proper police protocol on the day.
Floyd’s death started another one of societal reckoning with America’s past and present because of aggressive policing and anti-Black racism. During the time when the jury was being selected, prospective jurors were asked about their views on defunding the police, Black Lives Matter, and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the singing of the National Anthem.
During the trial itself there will be a focus on questions that are specific to this case, they will include Floyd’s autopsy, Chauvin’s mindset and ill-defined legal terms, Derek Chauvin is the defendant.
The trial will be held at Hennepin County, the courthouse will be heavily fortified and surrounded by fencing and law enforcement. Covid-19 precautions will be adhered to, plexiglass barriers were set up inside the courtroom, the witnesses and attorneys are required to wear masks even while they are not speaking.
Witness testimony and opening statements are expected to last for approximately four weeks, and deliberations will follow.
If Chauvin is convicted, he could be facing up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. As the Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommends approximately 12.5 years in prison for each murder charge and about four years for a manslaughter charge.