MINNEAPOLIS – Jurors will return to the courtroom on Monday morning to hear further testimony in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, charged with the murder of George Floyd.
Jurors heard from 19 people last week, several of whom witnessed Floyd’s death, and broke down at the stand as they described their attempts to intervene on his behalf. Several Minneapolis police officers, including Chauvin’s supervisor at the time of Floyd’s death, testified to what they saw at the scene after Floyd’s arrest, police training and the use of force by the police on Floyd.
Veteran officer Lt. Richard Zimmerman told the court on Friday that kneeling around a suspect’s neck is potentially fatal and that there is “absolutely” an obligation to provide medical intervention as soon as necessary. Zimmerman called Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd “totally unnecessary.”
“Keeping him on the ground face down and putting your knee on your neck during that time is just unnecessary,” he said.
Chauvin is charged with second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. Floyd, a black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Stay up to date on Derek Chauvin’s essay: Follow the USA TODAY Network journalists on Twitter, subscribe to text messages for major updates or subscribe to the Daily Briefing newsletter.
- The court is expected to resume with a motion hearing at 8:30 a.m. CST and the jury will return at around 9:15 a.m. CST on Monday.
- A small group of protesters have more or less taken up residence outside the Hennepin County government center and they promise to stay put.
Scenes from Minneapolis: Anger brews as protest hotspots recover
From the razor wire that rings the courthouse to the activists who still occupy the streets, it is a city that still counts with the consequences of the death of George Floyd and the high-profile trial of the police officer accused of having killed him.
Though the streets are largely empty of protests, a long-simmering anger boils beneath the surface, and angry calls for justice and reform echo throughout the city, particularly in the neighborhood where Floyd died. And 10 months after his death, Floyd’s name and face are everywhere, looking at the billboards, scribbled on the walls. Depending on the day and how harshly the police decide to enforce the rules, dozens of posters of Floyd’s face look out over the Hennepin County government center from where they hang from barbed wire security fences.
“We will be here every day and night until justice is done,” said protester Ashley Dorelus, 26, one of the people who occupied the square outside the courthouse. “It’s a revolution, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not a parade.”
The intersection where Floyd died has become a metaphor for the city as a whole: still in mourning, and with no consensus on exactly how to move forward. City officials want to reopen the intersection after the trial is over. Campaigners fear this to happen could allow Floyd to become just one more black man killed by the cops.
In the city center, the fortified government center and the courthouse are surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers. For many protesters and reform supporters, barbed wire, armored cars and camouflaged soldiers with guns are the ultimate expression of the yawning chasm between the government and the people it is meant to represent.
It is clear from the security measures that the authorities are afraid of what could happen if angry mobs again roam the streets to demand justice and reform.
Lake Street suffered the brunt of the destruction, as angry residents first attacked the 3rd arrondissement police station where Chauvin and his colleagues were based, then spilled over into liquor stores, pharmacies , Target and Cub food stores.
Today, reconstruction is underway for some. Target and Cub have reopened, as have most liquor stores. As the broken glass was washed away and the burnt buildings were demolished, the scars of the civil unrest and riots of last summer remain.
Floyd’s opioid addiction highlighted in Derek Chauvin trial
Like millions of Americans, George Floyd lived through the torment of drug addiction.
He and his girlfriend, Courteney Ross, became addicted to opioids four years ago after both being prescribed for chronic pain. When the prescriptions ran out, they turned to using illegal drugs. They tried to clean up, then failed. They tried again, but couldn’t stop for long.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the United States, Floyd, the father of two young girls, resumed using: he lost his job as a nightclub security guard due to quarantine closures , he was hospitalized for several days after an overdose, he found out he had the coronavirus. On the day of his death, with the neck stuck below the knee of former Minnesota cop Derek Chauvin, he had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, toxicology reports later showed.
“We have become addicted and have tried very hard to break that addiction on several occasions,” Ross said tearfully on Thursday when testifying in the Chauvin trial over Floyd’s death.
Floyd’s death helped start a global civil rights movement against racial injustice and police violence. His lawsuit could also shape the way Americans view drug addiction at a time when blacks continue to be denied medical treatment for drug addiction compared to white Americans even as they suffer from disproportionately high rates of fatal opioid overdoses. .
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson sought to persuade jurors that the drugs – not Chauvin’s knee squeezing Floyd’s neck as he shouted “I can’t breathe” while he was handcuffed to the ground – had contributed to Floyd’s death.
Prosecutors, family members and medical experts said Floyd’s drug abuse history did not explain how he died. Chauvin, who is white, is charged with second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man.