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“This is not the trial of George Floyd. George Floyd is not on trial here,” said prosecutor Steve Schliecher. “He didn’t get a trial when he was alive and he is not on trial here.”
After a month of difficult and often heartbreaking testimony, the prosecution today offered damning closing statements in their case against Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin’s failure to follow his training
For more than two hours, lead prosecutor Schliecher reiterated the evidence in the trial, making the case that Chauvin is guilty of murder. Chauvin, prosecutors argued, was not a “reasonable officer” and was not operating within the bounds of his training. Chauvin was, as Schliecher phrased it, “placing his pride over his policing responsibilities.”
The prosecution argued that George Floyd was “in crisis” and that he was in need of help that officers refused to provide.
Schliecher recalled that the jury learned in this trial the MPD officers received “over 800 hours of training for a crisis. They recognize this. They train for this. This is nothing new.”
According to testimony, Minneapolis Police receive more than 4,000 calls for persons in crisis every single year.
“It was as if George Floyd’s left lung had been surgically removed”
The prosecution argues that, instead of taking action to use his training, Chauvin approached the event without regard for Floyd’s humanity.
“The defendant arrives on the scene. He saunters up to the car. And he slips on his gloves.”
Chauvin’s defense team has repeatedly argued that the former officer had to restrain Floyd in the manner he did because Floyd posed a threat. Defense attorney Eric Nelson has repeatedly called upon racial stereotypes about Floyd’s size and stature to justify his killing.
Schliecher, however, told the jury that they “need to reject the argument” that Floyd had “superhuman strength.”
“Those humans don’t exist,” he said. “Human beings feel pain.”
During the infamous video, Floyd is repeatedly heard crying out in pain, pleading with Chauvin to get off of his neck.
“Ninety pounds of force were pressing down on Mr. Floyd,” Schliecher recounted doctors testifying. The loss of airflow was so great that “it was as if George Floyd’s left lung had been surgically removed.”
“You know how George Floyd died,” he said. “George Floyd died as the result of a low level of oxygen.”
The defense has attempted to claim that drug use or Floyd’s heart condition were the main factors in his death. These claims have been frequently repudiated by experts.
Historic decision will rest in the hands of twelve ordinary citizens
In his closing statement, Schliecher made plain the responsibility of the jury in deciding the role Chauvin played in Floyd’s death.
“The fact that other causes may have contributed to George Floyd’s death does not absolve the defendant of criminal liability. What you have to find is that 9 minutes and 29 seconds of having the knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck was a significant factor in his death.”
“Use your common sense,” he urged them. “Use what you see.”
After the defense closes their case, the state will have one more opportunity for rebuttal. Then, twelve jurors will deliberate the guilt or innocence of Derek Chauvin in what will likely be one of the most consequential jury decisions in modern history.