The murder trial of Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, charged in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, kicked off this morning with prosecutors’ and the defense team’s opening statements.
“There are people across the street, there are cars stopping, people yelling,” attorney Eric Nelson explained. “There is a growing crowd, what officers perceive to be a threat. They’re called names. I heard them this morning: ‘fucking bum.’ They’re screaming at him causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them.”
Chauvin’s defense also reiterated the bold claim that Floyd’s death was a result of a drug overdose, rather than suffocation and their client’s excessive use of force. Nelson added that a witness said the late victim seemed to be “drunk” when he purchased cigarettes at the grocery store.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell admitted that Floyd struggled with substance abuse issues, but argued that the video of the horrific death shows the late man was the victim of a murder, specifically a suffocation that resulted in his inability to breath. He claimed that Chauvin “betrayed his badge” during Floyd’s death and proceeded to show bystander video of the incident.
The first witness was then called to the stand. Jena Lee Scurry, the 911 dispatcher working the day of Floyd’s death, recalled seeing portions of Floyd’s arrest from city surveillance videos. At first glance, she said he was in a cop car; when she looked up a second time, she noticed he was on the ground surrounded by people in the video who seemed to be standing still. “I first asked if the screens had frozen because it hadn’t changed. I became concerned that something might be wrong,” she explained. She said she reported her concerns to her supervisor, adding, “You can call me a snitch if you want to … I don’t know if they have used force or not. They got something out of the squad (car) and all of them sat on this man.”
“This murder case is not hard when you watch that torture video fo George Floyd. And we have to call it what it is: it was torture,” Benjamin Crump said ahead of the trial. “We’re not asking for anything extraordinary. We’re asking for equal justice under the law.”
Chauvin is currently facing charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death.