2:00 | Updated 18.4. 22:23
One The most watched trials in recent U.S. history are coming to an end. George Floydin the death of the accused Derek Chauvinin the trial will proceed on Monday to the closing remarks. After that, a jury of laymen retreats to consider judgment.
The trial will decide the fate of one man, but millions believe the verdict will ultimately affect American society and its legal system.
A video of Floyd’s death in May gave birth to a worldwide protest movement demanding justice for victims of racism and police violence. The protests also provoked a strong backlash, and the former president Donald Trump strongly attacked the protesters and their demands.
The United States is now waiting, holding its breath, which group will get the right they want and what will follow from the verdict. In this case, HS answers the key questions about litigation and its significance.
What is Derek Chauvin accused of?
Chauvin, who had worked as a police officer in Minneapolis for 19 years, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck in an arrest situation for about nine minutes. Floyd was in handcuffs, shouting in pain, and said he wouldn’t breathe until he lost consciousness. Chauvin did not raise his knee or resuscitate Floyd, although his colleague said Floyd’s pulse was gone and bystanders shouted for him to stop.
Attempts were later made to revive Floyd, but he did not regain consciousness, and he was found dead in the hospital.
Chauvinia three charges have been brought against him. He is charged under Minneapolis law with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree murder. In Finland, they would correspond to crimes less serious than murder and murder.
The most serious crime is convicted if you inadvertently cause another death while committing another crime. In Chauvin’s case, another crime would be assault. The maximum penalty is 40 years in prison.
A third-degree murder is punishable if it has inadvertently caused the death of another person by behaving in a manifestly dangerous manner and ignoring the human life. The maximum penalty is 25 years in prison.
In the most lenient criminal offense, it is sufficient for the conviction if the accused, through his gross negligence, has caused the death of another person and taken a conscious risk of causing death or significant bodily injury. For that, the maximum penalty is ten years in prison.
Chauvin denies all charges.
What did the witnesses called by the prosecutor say?
Prosecutors summoned a total of 38 witnesses to court over 11 days. Among them were eyewitnesses, experts in the use of force, coroners and doctors.
An exceptional number of police officers also testified against Derek Chauvin. Among them was the head of the Minneapolis Police Department Medaria Arradondo. He testified that Chauvin violated the instructions.
“It wasn’t in line with our education and especially our ethics.”
Other police also testified that Chauvin used excessive force and violated the rules.
Trial the central question is where George Floyd died.
Many expert witnesses called by the prosecutor testified that Floyd died of a lack of oxygen due to Chauvin’s use of force. Fentanyl, a potent drug, was found in Floyd’s blood, but several witnesses said Floyd’s symptoms did not indicate an overdose of fentanyl.
A coroner who made Floyd’s autopsy Andrew Baker however, was more cautious in his words.
Baker classified Floyd’s death as a homicide, which in the death cause report means all deaths caused by another person. However, he also believed Floyd’s previous illnesses and drug use contributed to his death.
“The repression, restraint and neck pressure by the police was too much for the heart-sick Floyd,” Baker said.
In addition to Chauvin, three other police officers are charged with involvement in Floyd’s death, but their trial is later.
To convict Chauvin, it is enough that his grips were the “significant cause” of Floyd’s death. They don’t have to be the only reason.
How did the defense respond?
The defense has two main arguments. It believes Chauvin did not cause Floyd’s death. In addition, the defense says police used force within the limits allowed. During the trial, the defense sought to divert attention from the perpetrator to the victim and drew attention to Floyd’s drug use and illness.
The defense heard a former Maryland State coroner as a key expert witness David Fowleria, who said he believed Floyd died of an adrenaline-induced arrhythmia. He suspected that drugs and police car exhaust could also have played a role in the death.
In support of the latter claim, Fowler had no evidence. The prosecutor again called a pulmonologist to the witness box Martin Tobinin, who proved that Fowler’s theory of carbon monoxide poisoning by exhaust is “simply wrong”.
Defense summoned by a force expert Barry Brodd in turn, proved that Chauvin’s extracts could not be considered a use of force. At the prosecutor’s cross-examination, he still admitted that in the police department’s instructions they are considered use of force.
The defense called only seven witnesses in two days. It is common for the defense to spend less time than prosecutors, who have a greater burden of proof.
How is the judgment decided?
After the closing remarks by the prosecutor and the defense, the jury withdraws to rule on the verdict. The jury consists of 12 members and two alternates. They are ordinary citizens.
Choosing a jury is a key part of American litigation. The aim is to weed out those who have strong prejudices about the crime. In a lot of publicity, it’s harder than usual. Members have been banned from following the news during the trial.
Witness statements at the end of the judge Peter Cahill urged jury members to come to the courthouse on Monday packed. They have been isolated from the rest of the world until a verdict is reached. There is no time limit for the jury to consider.
“You would prepare for the long and wish for the short,” Cahill instructed.
The jury must be unanimous in its decision. If any member finds Chauvin innocent, he cannot be convicted. Then the charges will either lapse or a new trial will be held.
The jury will only decide guilt or innocence. If Chauvin is found guilty, the judge will later decide on the sentence. The judgment can also be appealed.
Conviction of a police officer for a felony is very rare in the United States.
How is the United States preparing for the verdict?
The atmosphere has tightened further in recent weeks.
During the trial, new videos of police violence against minorities have come to light.
During a three-week trial, police have killed at least 64 people in the United States, The New York Times says. In a suburb of Minneapolis, for example, police shot dead a 20-year-old at a traffic stop Daunte Wrightin. Police said they confused the remote control and the gun.
Wright’s death has led to small demonstrations, looting, and clashes between police and protesters.
If Chauvin is not condemned, large-scale demonstrations are predicted throughout the country, which are feared to rise into riots in places.
Minneapolis has been called in by 3,000 National Guard soldiers and 1,100 police to maintain order and peaceful demonstrations. The streets have been closed and the administration buildings are to be emptied before the verdict.
Judgment and reactions to it are a test for the president as well To Joe Biden. In his election campaign, Biden emphasized fairness and opposition to structural racism. George Floyd is a symbol of both.
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