Minnesota prosecutor says Floyd death was murder, not policing

By: AFP      Published: 03:07 AM, 20 Apr, 2021
Minneapolis police officer
Minnesota prosecutor

A prosecutor urged jurors on Monday to convict the white former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, saying the death of the 46-year-old Black man, which was captured on video seen by millions around the world, was "murder" not policing.

"This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first when you saw that video," Steve Schleicher said in closing arguments at the trial of ex-policeman Derek Chauvin. "You can believe your eyes," Schleicher said. "It's exactly what you knew, it's what you felt in your gut, it's what you now know in your heart."

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter over Floyd's May 25, 2020 death, which sparked protests against racial injustice around the world and is being seen as a landmark test of police accountability.

Read More: Jury nearly complete for George Floyd murder trial

Chauvin was captured on video kneeling on the neck of Floyd, who was pinned facedown handcuffed on the ground for more than nine minutes complaining "I can't breathe." "This wasn't policing, this was murder," Schleicher said. "Nine minutes and 29 seconds of shocking abuse of authority.

"The defendant is guilty of all three counts. And there's no excuse." Presenting his closing arguments, defence attorney Eric Nelson told the jury they need to look at Chauvin's actions "from the perspective of a reasonable police officer."

"He did not purposefully use unlawful force. These are officers doing their job," Nelson said. "You have to take into account that officers are human beings capable of making mistakes." He defended the actions of Chauvin and the other officers who held Floyd down on the ground.

"This was not a neck restraint. This was not a chokehold," he said.

Nelson said Floyd's heart disease and drug use played a role in his death. "They're trying to convince you that Floyd's heart disease played no role," he said. "I'm not suggesting this was an overdose death," Nelson said, "but it is a preposterous notion to say that this did not come into play here."

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Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.