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Court case Trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin over death of George Floyd begins

He could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.

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George Floyd Square is adorned with a poster of the man in front of the place where he died in Minneapolis. Photo: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

George Floyd Square is adorned with a poster of the man in front of the place where he died in Minneapolis. Photo: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

George Floyd Square is adorned with a poster of the man in front of the place where he died in Minneapolis. Photo: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

Television cameras will offer the world a front-row seat today to opening arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former police officer accused of killing George Floyd.

Mr Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last May, after being pinned to the ground by Mr Chauvin during an arrest, touched off a global movement against racism and police brutality.

Mr Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, with the trial expected to be one of the most closely watched in US history.

He could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.

In recognition of the global interest in the case, Judge Peter Cahill has allowed the entire proceedings to be live-streamed, a first in Minnesota’s history. The access has been granted to Court TV, a US channel best known for its lurid coverage of the OJ Simpson trial and other high-profile criminal cases in the 1990s.

The network, which relaunched itself in 2019, will share its footage with other media outlets to allow the proceedings to be broadcast live to audiences across the world.

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Derek Chauvin

Derek Chauvin

Derek Chauvin


The coverage will come from three cameras placed at different vantage points within the Hennepin County courtroom in downtown Minneapolis.

One of those cameras will be trained on Mr Chauvin (45), showing his reactions to the proceedings in real time.

The decision to allow TV networks access to the courtroom for the entirety of the trial has been met with mixed responses, with some praising the move to transparency but others raising concerns that public opinion may influence the proceedings.

Grace Wong, Court TV’s director of field operations, said the biggest resistance had come from the prosecution.

“They objected vigorously and challenged the decision,” she said earlier this month. “Their argument was that cameras would intimidate the witnesses, but in this case the witnesses are mainly experts who testify in trials all the time.”

While Court TV will be looking to its popular coverage of the Simpson trial as a template, there will be notable differences with Mr Chauvin’s.

The cameras will not be permitted to zoom in or out on people within the courtroom and cannot show Mr Floyd’s family or any of the witnesses without their prior permission.

Many view the trial as a litmus test for racial change in the US, after footage of Mr Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as he begged for air led to a national reckoning over America’s troubling record of police brutality.

Prosecutors have indicated they intend to frame the case in terms of race, and have sought to remove prospective white jurors who expressed staunch support for the police or negative attitudes to the Black Lives Matter.

Fifteen jurors, including three alternates, have been selected after weeks of extensive questioning on their knowledge of the case and their views on policing and racism.

The panel has a much more diverse composition than the population of Minneapolis, with one black woman, three black men, two mixed-race women, six white women and three white men.

The prosecution is expected to use today’s opening arguments to retell the story of Mr Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, after he was apprehended by police outside a shop in Minneapolis for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note.

Mr Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, was among four officers who responded to the incident. The other three officers – J Alexander Keung, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – also face charges over the death.

They are to be tried separately.

The prosecutors are expected to play footage of the arrest to the jury during their opening arguments. To secure a conviction they must convince the jury that Mr Chauvin used excessive force and was a substantial factor in Floyd’s death.

The defence is expected to argue that Mr Floyd’s death was caused by drug use and pre-existing health problems.

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Telegraph.co.uk


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