Floyd was “just a man, lying on the pavement, being pressed upon, desperately crying out. A grown man crying out for his mother. A human being,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said as he sought to convince the racially diverse jury that Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd man by pinning him to the pavement for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, outside a corner market last May.
Prosecutors say those actions, despite Floyd’s repeated cries that he couldn’t breathe, were reckless, unreasonable and warrant conviction not just for manslaughter but also on two murder counts.
The defense for the now-fired white officer contends Floyd put himself at risk by using fentanyl and methamphetamine, then resisted officers trying to arrest him – factors that combined with his heart disease to lead to his death.
Judge Peter Cahill opened the day’s court session by instructing the jurors on reviewing different types of evidence and told them that they will consider each charge against Chauvin separately.
The anonymous jury will deliberate in a downtown courthouse surrounded by concrete barriers and razor wire, in an anxious city heavily fortified by National Guard members and just days after fresh outrage erupted over the police killing of a 20-year-old Black man in a nearby suburb.
A few protesters gathered outside the courthouse Monday as light snowflakes blew in the wind. “No breaths. No pulse. 3 1/2 minutes. Chauvin didn’t let up/get up,” read one protester’s sign.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All three charges require the jury to conclude that Chauvin’s actions were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death – and that his use of force was unreasonable.
Second-degree murder requires prosecutors to prove Chauvin intended to harm Floyd, but not that he intended to kill him. Third-degree murder requires proof that Chauvin’s actions were “eminently dangerous” and done with indifference to loss of life. Second-degree manslaughter requires jurors to believe that he caused Floyd’s death through negligence and consciously took the chance of causing severe injury or death.
Each count carries a different maximum sentence: 40 years for second-degree unintentional murder, 25 years for third-degree murder, and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. Sentencing guidelines call for far less time, including 12 1/2 years on either murder count.
Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writer Mohamed Ibrahim contributed.
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