On May 25, 2020 George Floyd entered Cup Foods on Chicago Ave in Minneapolis, MN. Floyd’s seemingly innocent trip to the store on Memorial Day ended in tragedy after being arrested and detained by former police officer, Derek Chauvin.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of his death and the events that followed, one fact remains clear. The consistent display of excessive force and disregard for Black lives at every turn has simply become too much to consume. While we realize that many have opted to not watch the coverage of the trial, in an understandable act of self-care, we invite you to remain vigilant and hopeful in the fight for justice.
To ensure that our readers remain informed on the facts of the case, we will provide regular updates on the trial, with your self-care in mind. Our focus will remain on the facts of the case and key stakeholders.
What we know about the case/trial so far:
Judge Peter Cahill (Hennepin County)
Cahill has been a judge for 14 years, served as a prosecutor for 10 years, and a top advisor to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar during her time as a prosecutor.
Attorney Eric Nelson (Chauvin’s Attorney)
USA Today reports that Nelson is being funded by a police legal fund with a dozen lawyers and $1 million dollars.
Attorney General Keith Ellison (Floyd Attorney)
Lead prosecutor and the first African-American elected attorney general in Minnesota. He is joined by Steven Schleicher, Matthew Frank, Jerry Blackwell.
The Derek Chauvin Murder Trial began on Monday, March 29...
The Charges and Defense
Former Officer Derek Chauvin is being charged on three counts: 2nd degree unintentional murder, 3rd degree murder, 2nd degree manslaughter. The first witness, Jena Scurry stated that while watching a live video feed of the arrest, she thought her screens had frozen because of how long officers held George Floyd down–she called a sergeant. Scurry, a 911 dispatcher contacted authorities in an effort to report potential abuse of force. According to Attorney Eric Nelson, a growing crowd on the scene of George Floyd’s arrest was perceived as a threat.
“As the crowd grew in size, seemingly so too did their anger,” said Nelson. “Remember there’s more to the scene than just what the officers see in front of them. There are people behind them, there are people across the street, there are cars stopping, people yelling. There is a growing crowd and what officers perceive to be a threat.”
The Prosecution: Use of Force
The prosecuting attorney, Keith Ellison has presented a case stating that excessive and unreasonable force was used against George Floyd. “We are going to prove to you that Mr. Chauvin’s conduct was a substantial cause of Mr. Floyd’s death,” said Ellison. “We are going to show you that putting knees on somebody’s neck, Mr. Floyd’s, putting a knee on his back for nine minutes and 29 seconds was an imminently dangerous activity and he did it without regard to what impact it had on Mr. Floyd’s life.”
Chauvin’s lawyer responded with claims that evidence will show that Mr. Floyd’s death is the result of a cardiac arrhythmia, as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and adrenaline flowing through his body. Additionally, Chauvin’s defense asserts that evidence does not show that Mr. Floyd’s air flow was restricted and that it was not determined “to be a positional or mechanical asphyxia death.”
Police were initially called to the scene after suspicion was raised about the $20 dollar bill Floyd used to pay for his purchase at Cup Foods, a local convenience store. A cashier, 19-year-old Christopher Martin testified that he now feels guilt for having contacted the police instead of simply not accepting the bill.
Additional Witness Testimony and Evidence:
- A 61-year old bystander, Charles McMillian, offered emotional testimony and was brought to tears after watching body cam footage of the day he attempted to advise Floyd on how to conduct himself during the now infamous and tragic arrest.
- Never-before seen videos from various angles, including police body camera footage was reviewed and showed Floyd pleading for his life.
- A second paramedic, Seth Bravinder, testified that that when he arrived, officers still had their knee on Floyd’s neck.
- Teenager Darnella Frazier testified that there have been several nights that she has stayed up in regret apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more to save his life.
- A 9-year-old eyewitness testified that Chauvin was asked twice to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck twice after paramedics arrived.
- There are additional eyewitness accounts from minors who have provided testimony but will not be identified or shown on camera.
- Donald Williams, a mixed martial artist, also testified that he called the police on the police because “I believe I witnessed a murder.”
- An off-duty Minnesota firefighter, Genevieve Hansen claims that she offered to provide medical attention, but attempts were denied.
George Floyd’s girlfriend of three years, Courteney Ross gave an emotional testimony of her shared struggle with Floyd. “It’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back. We got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction, many times, ” she stated.
Minneapolis Police Chief, Medaria Arradondo is expected to testify again Derek Chauvin.
Monique Wingard is an entrepreneur, educator, and doctoral student in communication, culture, and media studies. Follow her on Instagram @moniquewingard.