What happens if tasers fail
Closing arguments in the George Floyd case : And what if Derek Chauvin is acquitted?
Minneapolis is preparing for the worst. Shops have nailed boards in front of their shop windows, schools have announced that they will switch to online lessons from Wednesday, and 3,000 national guardsmen have been called in for reinforcement.
All five police stations in the most populous city in the US state of Minnesota were secured by high iron fences reinforced with barbed wire, as were important administrative buildings.
Hennepin County's courthouse has long been like a fortress. The closing speeches in the trial of the killing of the African American George Floyd were held here on Monday. After those final words from the prosecution and defense, the jury should withdraw to reach an agreement on the guilt of the now-dismissed cop Derek Chauvin for Floyd's death less than a year ago.
There are huge concerns about what will happen if Chauvin is acquitted or his sentence is mild. After the death of Floyd, whose torment millions of people could follow because a passerby had filmed the incident, serious riots broke out in Minneapolis and other major American cities.
Nine minutes and 29 seconds of agony
The 46-year-old Floyd was killed in an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25 last year. As can be seen on the video, the white policeman Chauvin had kneeled on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds (the period was corrected upwards several times) and did not let go of him when he pleaded and exclaimed that he could not breathe .
Floyd's last words "I can't breathe" became the motto of the largest protest movement against racism and police violence in decades. Since then, there have been repeated demonstrations in front of the courthouse in Minneapolis, where the hearing of witnesses in the main trial last Thursday ended - after just three weeks.
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The most serious charge, for which chauvin could be put behind bars for up to 40 years, is second degree murder without intent - which in German law is comparable to manslaughter. The 45-year-old is also accused of third-degree murder, which can be punished with up to 25 years in prison. The ex-police officer also has to answer for second degree manslaughter, which is followed by ten years in prison.
Chauvin, bailed out, has pleaded not guilty. He did not make a statement. Three other former police officers who were involved in the operation and did not stop Chauvin are charged with aiding and abetting. Your trial is scheduled to begin in August.
The jury remains anonymous - for security reasons
How long it will take the twelve jurors in the Chauvin case to deliver a verdict is open. They are no longer allowed to go home during the deliberations. They are staying in a hotel in Minneapolis until they come to an agreement - a single juror could prevent a conviction. For security reasons, the jury will remain anonymous until further notice.
Judge Peter Cahill admonished her on Monday to base her decision on "facts" only. The accused can only be convicted if there is no doubt about his guilt. With a view to defense, he also stated that this is not about the character of George Floyd.
The prosecution makes it clear: it is not against the police
Attorney Steve Schleicher, the first to speak after Judge Cahill, began by saying, "His name was George Perry Floyd Jr.". Floyd died "face down on the asphalt". He directed his last words “I can‘t breathe” to strangers. Especially to Derek Chauvin, whom he called “Mr. Officer ”.
Schleicher said he understood when it was difficult to imagine a police officer doing something like that. But Chauvin killed Floyd by kneeling on him for nine minutes and 29 minutes. “It wasn't police work. That was murder, ”said Schleicher in his two-hour plea. "He gave away the police badge and everything it stood for."
The police are not on trial, stressed the prosecutor, on the contrary: this process should support them. "This case is called, The State of Minnesota vs. Derek Chauvin". This case isn't called, The State of Minnesota vs. the Police ... There's nothing worse for good cops than bad cops. "
The defense argues that the procedure complies with the rules
It got emotional when Schleicher described the last few minutes in Floyd's life. "George Floyd begged until he couldn't speak," said the prosecutor. At this point, all that was needed was “a little compassion” - “and none was shown that day”.
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Defense attorney Eric Nelson subsequently attempted to weaken the prosecutors' impressive portrayal. If only one aspect is missing, a reasonable doubt, the verdict must be not guilty, Nelson demanded.
Addressing the jury, he said there were reasonable doubts about Floyd's cause of death. In addition, there could be no crime because Chauvin's actions were harsh but justified and compliant with the rules. Floyd resisted the arrest, stressed the lawyer who tried to portray Chauvin as an "appropriately" acting police officer.
The Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, however, had already contradicted this line of defense during his hearing in the process and described Chauvin's knee use as disproportionate and unlawful.
Tense mood in the Minneapolis area
The defense also argued that Floyd's death was not primarily due to violence, but primarily to his pre-existing health and drug residues in his blood. This was also clearly rejected by experts from the public prosecutor's office. For example, a lung specialist said during the hearing that Floyd died of cardiac arrest caused by a lack of oxygen.
After the defense, it was once again planned that the prosecutors would attack the floor. Then the jury should withdraw - and the anxious wait should begin.
The mood in the greater Minneapolis area is charged not only because of the trial, but also because another African American was killed by the police a week ago. A white policewoman shot at 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in the suburb of Brooklyn Center, accidentally using her firearm instead of her stun gun (taser).
There were also protests after the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. A white policeman shot the black boy in Chicago last week. Then there were demonstrations in several cities, some of which also became violent.
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