Derek Chauvin’s murder trial for the death of George Floyd has kicked off in the US overnight, with the former police officer charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. However, his lawyer claims Chauvin was simply doing “exactly what he had been trained to do.”
Floyd’s death in May of 2020 sparked a huge wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the US – and the world – after Chauvin allegedly knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes, tragically killing him.
Day one of the trial kicked off overnight, with the prosecution starting their opening statement by outlining the standards written on the Minneapolis Police Department badge, standards in which officers vow to uphold.
These include never using “unnecessary force or violence” and showing respect for “the sanctity of life.”
After showing the badge, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell gave a powerful opening statement.
“It’s a small badge that carries with it a large responsibility and a large accountability to the public,” Blackwell said.
“It represents the essence of the department’s approach to the use of force against its citizens when appropriate. The sanctity of life and the protection of the public shall be the cornerstones of the department’s use of force.
“Officers take an oath when they become police officers. They take an oath that I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately. And as you will learn as it applies to this case, never employing unnecessary force or violence.
The prosecution alleges, “You will learn that on May 25, 2020, Mr Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr George Floyd.”
Throughout his statement, Blackwell played the full video of Chauvin allegedly kneeling on Floyd’s neck, making a point to allege that Floyd said he couldn’t breathe 27 times before he died.
Meanwhile, Chauvin’s defence team – led by lawyer Eric Nelson – asserted that “there are always two sides to a story.”
“Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career. The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary part of policing,” Nelson said, asserting that Chauvin was simply doing his job.
Additionally, Nelson used the argument that there is more to the evidence than the nine minutes and 29 seconds of footage shown by the prosecution, evidence that will likely be presented at a later date in the trial.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
If found guilty of the most serious charge, Chauvin is facing up to 40 years in jail.