(Reuters) – Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May.
Here are some of the key moments of the trial, which began on March 29:
PROSECUTORS TELLS JURORS TO ‘BELIEVE YOUR EYES’
During their closing argument on Monday, prosecutors told jurors to “believe your eyes” as they replayed video of George Floyd’s death while being held down with Chauvin’s knee on his neck.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher also repeatedly referred to “Nine minutes and 29 seconds,” — the length of time Chauvin was captured on video on May 25, 2020.
“This wasn’t policing; this was murder,” Schleicher told jurors, often speaking with audible anger and disgust.
“He was trapped with the unyielding pavement beneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down,” Schleicher said.
CHAUVIN’S ATTORNEY SAYS HE ACTED AS A ‘REASONABLE POLICE OFFICER’
Chauvin’s lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, told jurors during his closing argument that his client behaved as any “reasonable police officer” would, saying that he followed his training from 19 years on the force.
“In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force, as unattractive as it may be,” Nelson said.
Nelson also told jurors that prosecutors were wrong to dismiss his theory that carbon monoxide poisoning from the nearby police car’s exhaust and Floyd’s use of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller, may have contributed to his death.
TEEN WHO FILMED FLOYD’S DEATH DESCRIBES EXPERIENCE
One of the first witnesses called was a teenager who recorded the cellphone video viewed by millions worldwide showing Floyd’s death. Darnella Frazier told the jury that when she looked at Floyd, she saw her relatives and friends.
“That could’ve been one of them,” Frazier said, adding that she has stayed up some nights “apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.”
Frazier cried when prosecutors showed her a frame of the video, a moment when Chauvin, his knee on Floyd’s neck, appeared to look directly into her lens.
FLOYD’S GIRLFRIEND TELLS OF ROMANCE, BATTLE WITH ADDICTION
Early on in the prosecution’s case, Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross, 45, took the stand where she told the jury about her romance with Floyd.
Through tears, Ross described the day in August 2017 when they met in a Salvation Army homeless shelter lobby, where they prayed and kissed. She told the jury about how they took walks and dined out.
She also testified about how an addiction to painkillers took hold of their life together.
“Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle,” she said.
POLICE CHIEF SAYS CHAUVIN VIOLATED POLICY
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo opened the second week of the trial with 3-1/2 hours of testimony. He testified that Chauvin, 45, broke the department’s rules and ethics code.
“That in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” Arradondo told jurors.
Arradondo said it was unusual for police to take someone into custody when the alleged crime was as minor as in the case of Floyd, who was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill at the Cup Foods grocery store.
CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER STANDS BY AUTOPSY REPORT
The second week of the trial ended with testimony from the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Floyd. Andrew Baker explained to jurors how he concluded that the 46-year-old man’s death was a homicide caused by Chauvin’s actions.
Baker, Hennepin County’s chief medical examiner, said he ruled Floyd’s death was a homicide caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.”
In short, he found that Floyd’s heart stopped beating and his lungs stopped working because Chauvin and other officers compressed him against the road in a way that starved his body of oxygen.
GEORGE FLOYD’S BROTHER REMEMBERS ‘MOMMA’S BOY’
The prosecution ended its case by calling Philonise Floyd, 39, who described growing up with his older brother and three other siblings in a housing project in Houston, playing video games and dreaming about basketball.
The testimony was allowed under a Minnesota doctrine that lets loved ones reminisce to the jury about a crime victim in what is called “spark of life” testimony.
The siblings were raised by a mother everyone in the community called Miss Cissy and who George Floyd doted on.
“He was a big momma’s boy,” Philonise Floyd told jurors.
DEFENSE OPENS CASE, CALLS RETIRED POLICE OFFICER
Lawyers for Chauvin began presenting their case at the start of the third week of testimony by calling to the stand a now-retired officer who pulled over a car in which Floyd was a passenger in 2019 – a year before his deadly encounter with Chauvin.
“The passenger was unresponsive and noncompliant to my commands,” Scott Creighton told the jury, describing Floyd as nervous and anxious during the tense encounter. “I then had to reach in to him because I wanted to see his hands.”
The testimony, accompanied by body camera video of the incident, was intended to show the jury what effects the ingestion of opioids may have had on Floyd.
DEFENSE MEDICAL EXPERT DISPUTES MEDICAL EXAMINER’S FINDING
Chauvin’s legal team called their own medical expert to the stand. Dr. David Fowler, who was Maryland’s chief medical examiner until his retirement in 2019, testified that Floyd’s death was the result of heart disease making his heart beat erratically.
“The more the individual is stressed, both physically and in other ways, the more the demand on the heart is going to increase,” he said.
Fowler also told the jury he believed exhaust fumes from a police car near where Chauvin pinned Floyd to the road may have contributed to the death. Fowler appeared to dispute at least some of what was found by Hennepin County’s chief medical examiner.
USE OF FORCE EXPERT TELLS JURY CHAUVIN WAS JUSTIFIED
Defense attorneys called an expert witness who testified that Chauvin was justified and reasonable in his use of force during Floyd’s arrest, contradicting several prosecution witnesses.
Barry Brodd, a private consultant in the use of force by law enforcement, said Chauvin was following his training, given that he was dealing with a tense and fluid situation.
“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” he said.
CHAUVIN WAIVES RIGHT TO TESTIFY
Chauvin waived his right to testify to the jury.
“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin said in a hearing without the jury present, referring to the constitutional right against self-incrimination.
(Compiled by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; editing by Grant McCool)