*Minneapolis will be the focus of the world Monday, as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, is due to begin with jury selection. Chauvin faces murder charges for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.
The digital channel Court TV will carry the trial live – gavel to gavel – from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. Click here to watch. Reports indicate it’s likely to be among the most closely watched legal events since the O.J. Simpson trial. Proceedings will also be televised and streamed on Law&Crime, a network which just launched on Peacock.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter, and a panel of appeals court judges ruled Friday that the judge must consider reinstating a third-degree murder charge that he dismissed last fall. Three other officers present at the scene, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao, face second-degree charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. They will be tried in the summer. All four have been fired by the Police Department.
Today’s jury selection is expected to come down to two key questions: Did Chauvin’s actions cause Floyd’s death, and were his actions reasonable?
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, is expected to argue that Floyd likely died from fentanyl he consumed, or a combination of fentanyl, methamphetamine and underlying health conditions — not as a result of Chauvin’s knee on his neck.
“Although he had him pinned under his knee and he’s yelling ‘I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!’ there’s an argument that (Chauvin) wasn’t exerting pressure and his inability to breathe was due to the drugs in his system or something to that effect, or his anxiety,” said F. Clayton Tyler, a prominent local defense attorney who was asked his opinion of the case.
Tyler said Chauvin will likely have to take the stand to explain why he felt he had to hold Floyd down for so long. Brandt said he’ll likely say he followed his training, and that it was necessary because his experience with other suspects under the influence of drugs shows that things can suddenly become erratic and dangerous.
Defense attorneys say it also may not be easy to establish that Chauvin was committing the felony of assault — as required for the second-degree murder charge in this case. That’s because Chauvin is authorized to use force as a police officer, and his attorneys will argue that his use of force against Floyd was reasonable.