Death of George Floyd: verdict imminent at the trial of Derek Chauvin

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The jury at the trial of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer charged with the murder of African-American George Floyd, reached a verdict on Tuesday on the second day of its deliberations in Minneapolis, the court said. The 12 jurors, who withdrew late Monday afternoon to debate behind closed doors, must inform the court of their decision between 3.30 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. local (between 8.30 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. GMT) to close an extraordinary trial, worldwide tracking.

The 45-year-old police officer is on trial for murder, manslaughter and intentional violence leading to the death of George Floyd, whom he arrested with three other officers for a minor offense on May 25, 2020. Derek Chauvin, who appears free, faces 12 and a half years in prison for the most serious charge.

Worry

The jurors represent the diverse population of the city: seven women and five men, six whites and six people of color; the youngest is in his twenties and the oldest in his sixties. “You must be absolutely impartial” and not let “public opinion influence your decision,” Judge Peter Cahill told them on Monday after a long day devoted to requisitions and pleading.

The outcome of this trial raises the concern of the authorities who fear violence if the police officer is acquitted. National Guard soldiers have been deployed in the city, the scene of daily demonstrations since the recent death of a young black man on the outskirts of Minneapolis.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old African-American, was killed by a white policewoman during an ordinary traffic stop on the outskirts of this large city in the north of the United States. Minneapolis had already set alight after the death of George Floyd, and businesses were once again barricaded behind wooden planks this week. “We must ensure that peace and stability are respected, but it is also important that the anger of the street, whatever happens, is transformed in a positive way,” said the governor of the state on Monday evening. , Tim Walz. More than 400 people marched in Minneapolis on Monday to demand the conviction of Derek Chauvin.

Historical scale

In the federal capital Washington, authorities have also put law enforcement on alert in anticipation of protests that could follow the verdict. In New York, the police assured that they were ready to intervene in the event of violence. The agony of George Floyd under Derek Chauvin’s knee, filmed by passers-by, shocked the world and sparked protests of historic proportions against racism and police violence. “This case is exactly what you initially thought when watching this video,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said in his indictment on Monday. “It was murder, the accused is guilty of all three counts and there is no excuse,” he said.

The prosecution, which called several witnesses from the police, stressed that this trial was not that of the institution, but of an individual who “betrayed” his police oath.

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, on the contrary called on the jurors to take into account the context of an arrest which, according to him, degenerates with a suspect of an imposing size who resists four police officers wanting to control him. Derek Chauvin acted “reasonably” given the circumstances, argued the lawyer, saying that police officers were “human beings” who “can make mistakes in very stressful situations.”

Presidential intervention

President Joe Biden invited himself into the debates on Tuesday, saying the evidence was “overwhelming” against the former police officer. The day before, he had spoken on the phone with relatives of George Floyd, according to the White House. “I got to know George’s family (…). It’s a good family, ”he added, evoking“ the anguish ”of waiting for the jury’s decision for the latter. Mr Biden had previously met the Floyd family in June 2020 in Houston, ahead of the 40-year-old’s funeral.

The president “knows what it’s like to lose a family member and he knows what we’re going through,” a brother of George Floyd, Philonise, confirmed Tuesday morning on NBC. Mr Biden lost his first wife and daughter in a car crash, followed by his son Beau, who died of cancer.

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