George Floyd murder trial: Derek Chauvin defence claims force is ‘not attractive’ but is ‘necessary part of policing’

“The evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds,” attorney says

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Monday 29 March 2021 21:53 BST
Derek Chauvin defence claims: ‘There are always two sides to a story’
Leer en Español

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, is regarded as one of the most important civil rights case in a generation.

But Mr Chauvin’s attorneys argued in opening statements on Monday that despite the widespread protests the death inspired, the case isn’t about racism or politics, but a reasonable use of force amid a lengthy, contentious arrest.

“There is no political or social cause in this court room,” attorney Eric Nelson told the court. “But the evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds.”

Mr Floyd resisted officers’ commands, he said, and had ingested drugs, prolonging and escalating the arrest.

Read more:

“Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career,” Mr Nelson added. “The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary part of policing.”

The case will in part come down to different interpretations of video footage of the 25 May arrest of Mr Floyd.

“You will see and hear everything Mr Floyd and these officers say to each other,” Mr Nelson added. “Evidence will show that when confronted by police, Mr Floyd put drugs in his mouth in an effort to conceal them from police.”

The defence also indicated it would add in evidence from police security cameras that caught part of the encounter, including Mr Floyd’s alleged attempts to resist being detained before he was pinned on the pavement.

“This was not an easy struggle,” Mr Nelson said, but argued the former officer was within reason to detain Mr Floyd the way he did.

There will also be major argument over the cause of Mr Floyd’s death. The state argues it was the kneeling move Mr Chauvin used on Mr Floyd, while the defence argues it was the drugs in Mr Floyd’s system, and pre-existing health conditions, which ultimately killed him during the encounter.

The state, for its part, argues there was no need to use the amount of force Mr Chauvin did given the conditions, and that he neglected his duty to care for the person in his custody.

“When Mr Floyd was in distress, Mr Chauvin wouldn’t help him, didn’t help him,” he said. “You’re also going to see, he stopped everyone else from trying to help him.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in