Closing statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin took place on Monday, April 19. PBS NewsHour Special correspondent Fred De Sam Lazaro reports on the final case made Monday by prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson (above). The verdict to come is being closely watched in Minnesota and other cities around the country — many of them braced for protests, marches and potential unrest.
Chauvin is the white former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, a Black man, on May 25, 2020, while on duty in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Opening statements in the Derek Chauvin trial began Monday, March 29 (see Week 1 trial coverage). The trial is taking place in Minneapolis (CDT), one hour behind Eastern Time (ET).
The key questions at trial are whether Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and whether his actions were reasonable.
The three charges Chauvin faces: For the unintentional second-degree murder charge, prosecutors have to prove Chauvin’s conduct was an assault and a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death, and that Chauvin was committing felony assault at the time. For third-degree murder, they must prove that Chauvin’s actions caused Floyd’s death, and were reckless and without regard for human life. The second-degree manslaughter charge requires proof that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death through negligence that created an unreasonable risk.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued: ..”evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, his coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and the adrenaline flowing through his body — all of which acted to further compromise an already compromised heart.”
Before closing arguments, Judge Peter Cahill instructed the jurors on the charges and laws in the case, which is part of the livestream archive of Day 15 of the trial (see below). The jury will be sequestered and can contact the judge with any questions as they deliberate on a verdict.
MetroFocus: Two Cases of Police Force Turned Deadly
Panel guests examine two major cases of police force turned deadly against Black men. From Derek Chauvin’s decision to plead the 5th, to his defense’s case “against” George Floyd, to ex-officer Kim Potter who stands charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright – Conservative Color Coalition Chair Joseph Pinion, former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, and syndicated radio host Santita Jackson deliberate.
Rodgers begins by reviewing the three charges against Chauvin, how Minnesota law differs from New York law, and what the sentencing typically is for each charge.
Livestream Archive of Closing Arguments of Derek Chauvin Trial, Day 15 (April 19)
Closing statements by the prosecution and defense in the trial of Derek Chuavin were made on Monday, April 19; the archived livestream is above. Watch on PBS NewsHour YouTube channel.
Previous Trial Coverage
See Week 2 archived livestream of Derek Chauvin trial and PBS NewsHour coverage and Week 3 archived livestream of Derek Chauvin trial and PBS NewsHour reports, which ended Thursday, April 15.