Derek Chauvin’s lawyer argued on Monday that the former officer acted reasonably when he knelt on top of George Floyd for more than nine minutes, imploring jurors to also consider the moments before the officers took Mr. Floyd to the ground as they began to debate whether to do so. condemn or acquit Mr. Chauvin.
Eric J. Nelson, counsel for Mr. Chauvin, said in his closing argument that there was much more to the case than the moments that had been captured on cell phone video and seen by the world. Mr. Nelson argued that there was at least a reasonable doubt on two vital questions: whether Mr. Chauvin’s actions were permitted under the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department and whether Mr. Chauvin caused Mr. Floyd. Jurors must believe that prosecutors have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt to convict.
The prosecution made its argument earlier on Monday, and another prosecutor will have the opportunity to rebut Mr Nelson’s argument later today, after which the 12 jurors who listened to three weeks of testimony will begin to deliberate on a verdict. They must be unanimous to convict Mr. Chauvin of one of the three charges he faces: second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
For nearly three hours, Mr. Nelson focused on Mr. Chauvin’s decision-making and the factors that may have caused Mr. Floyd’s death. He pointed out that the jury’s instructions say that no crime was committed if a police officer was justified in using reasonable force and that jurors should determine what is justified by considering what “a reasonable police officer in the same situation would be deemed necessary ”.
In determining what is needed, Mr. Nelson argued, special attention should be paid to the moments before officers put Mr. Floyd face down, when they tried to handcuff Mr. Floyd to the back. of a police car, which he resisted. , saying he was claustrophobic. Prosecutors repeatedly noted the exact time – nine minutes and 29 seconds – that Mr. Chauvin knelt on top of Mr. Floyd, but Mr. Nelson said that was only evidence.
“This is not the correct analysis because the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” said Nelson. He added: “A reasonable policeman would, in fact, take into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds.”
Mr. Nelson argued throughout the trial that a group of bystanders yelling at the police to get off Mr. Floyd and check his pulse had actually distracted police from the declining health of Mr. Floyd. On Monday, he highlighted the moment when experts said Mr. Floyd took his last breath, pointing out that at the same time, an off-duty firefighter and another bystander moved closer to Mr. Chauvin, prompting the officer to withdraw. its mass.
“Human beings are making decisions in very stressful situations that they believe to be right as they happen,” Nelson said.
Mr Nelson also criticized prosecutors’ medical experts, many of whom had said Mr Chauvin’s actions were the main cause of Mr Floyd’s death, saying their testimony “went against reason and common sense”. He particularly highlighted the testimony of Dr Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who he said had selectively chosen screenshots that obscured the context of full-length videos.
“Don’t be fooled by just one still image,” Nelson said. “Put the evidence in context.”
Mr Nelson said he was not arguing that Mr Floyd died of an overdose, but that jurors had to consider a wide range of factors regarding what could have caused Mr Floyd’s death, including poor heart health and fentanyl and methamphetamine. found in his system.
Mr Nelson said that when jurors considered all the evidence, they would conclude that prosecutors had not discharged their onus.
“The state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore Mr. Chauvin should be found not guilty on all counts,” he said.