The trial of Derek Chauvin

Derek Chauvin’s fate finally rested in the hands of the 12 jurors. On April 19, after three weeks of testimonies and witness statements, the prosecutor and defense attorneys made their closing arguments. 

Eric Nelson, the defense attorney, asked the jury to look at the big picture. “Do not let yourselves be misled by a single still frame image ” Nelson said. 

Nelson wanted the jury to take into account what happened before Mr. Chauvin arrived at the scene and the 16 minutes before he knelt on Geroge Floyd. He told the jury that Mr. Chauvin is a reasonable officer and that he did the same things that every other cop would have done. 

Jerry Blackwell, a prosecuting attorney, said that Mr. Floyd died because Mr. Chauvin’s “heart was too small.” He wanted the jury to recognize that there may have been other things that contributed to his death but Mr. Chauvin was a big part of it. Steve Sleicher, another prosecuting attorney, wanted the jury to focus on the video. “It’s exactly what you saw with your eyes… This wasn’t policing. This was murder.” Mr. Sleicher wanted the jury to know that what they were seeing in the video was enough evidence. 

The jury had to decide whether Mr. Chauvin should be charged for second-degree murder, third-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, or not guilty. “Second-degree murder is killing someone in the course of committing another felony.” The other felony here would be assault. “Third-degree murder is a death that occurs when someone is acting extremely dangerously, without regard to human life.” “Second-degree manslaughter is where a person creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to someone else.”

As the world waited for the jury to reach a verdict, Minneapolis did not. Businesses boarded up and prayed that it would be enough in case protests/riots similar to those that took place last year occurred. There was also an increase in National Guard. Over 3,000 National Guard members were placed around the city to protect the community.

On April 20, 2021, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts of the death of George Floyd. He will be held in the county jail without bail for 8 weeks until Judge Peter Cahill sentences him. Mr. Chauvin may face up to 40 years in prison.