The trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged in the murder of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis, begins Monday in Hennepin County.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other charge against him, third-degree murder, was dismissed in October, but he has been re-indicted during the jury selection process after the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Hennepin District Court Judge Peter Cahill erred when he dismissed it and ordered him to reconsider.
If convicted at trial, which will be streamed in full, Chauvin could face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, 25 years for third-degree murder and 10 years for manslaughter, according to ABC News.
The full jury – 12 people and three alternates – has been impaneled, after prosecutors, attorneys and the judge in charge of the case concluded an 11-day selection process.
The lawyer for Floyd’s family, Benjamin Crump, has considered that this Monday begins a “historic trial” that “will be a referendum on how far the United States has come in its quest for equality and justice for all”.
In a press conference from Minneapolis, prior to the trial’s opening statements, Crump has considered that it is not a “difficult” case if you look at Floyd’s “torture video.” “Breathing, walking and talking just fine until the officer turned him upside down, handcuffed him and put a knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds,” he has added, as reported by CNN television network.
For his part, Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, has assured that the family only seeks justice. “We have come for justice,” he said, remarking that the start of the trial is “a starting point.” “It’s a change that is long overdue in this country,” he added. After the press conference, the deceased’s family and his lawyers knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.
Floyd’s death during an arrest sparked a wave of protests against police violence and racism across the United States in 2020.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black citizen, died on May 25, 2020 after complaining that he could not breathe because of Chauvin’s knee on his neck, a sequence that was caught on video. The police response stemmed from Floyd making a payment with a counterfeit $20 bill.
Chauvin was dismissed from the police force shortly thereafter and released on bail once charged with murder and abuse. Three other officers face charges of complicity in the alleged crime. They will all go on trial in August.