It is a highly anticipated trial that began on Tuesday, March 9, in the United States. The court in Minneapolis, in the north of the country, must try a police officer for the murder of George Floyd, May 25, 2020.
The 40-year-old black man died after a violent arrest, during which he was immobilized on the ground, with his stomach on the ground. White cop Derek Chauvin is accused of having kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. In the video of the intervention, which has gone viral, we hear the interviewee repeatedly say that he cannot breathe.
George Floyd’s death became a symbol of racism in the police in the United States, driven in particular by the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests had sparked sometimes violent riots in the city of Minneapolis.
Who is the accused?
The defendant in the trial that has just begun is Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old white cop. He spent 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department. He had intervened with three colleagues to arrest George Floyd on suspicion of using a counterfeit twenty dollar bill to buy himself a pack of cigarettes.
The other three policemen, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, will be tried together next August for “complicity in murder” if Derek Chauvin is convicted.
Derek Chauvin received two medals for bravery (“Medals of valor”) in your career, remember The world. Once for injuring a young man suspected of domestic violence and the second after fatally touching a threatening suspect. But it has also been the subject of Many complaints : at least 22 depending on New York Times. Only one of them would have resulted in disciplinary measures, indicates the American media.
What is Derek Chauvin’s line of defense?
Derek Chauvin is on trial for “murder” and “manslaughter” and was released on bail last October. His lawyer Eric Nelson maintains that “the cause of George Floyd’s death is the subject of strong controversy.”
In fact, several tests have been carried out. The official autopsy report concludes that George Floyd had taken fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, but that the cause of his death is the “compression of his neck”.
Derek Chauvin’s attorney intends to argue that his client is not responsible for George Floyd’s death, and that he would rather death from overdose with fentanyl.
Why is this an important test?
George Floyd’s death trial is a symbol of police racism in the United States. After the violent arrest, the demonstrations were not limited to just the city of Minneapolis, but the crowds had also moved to other parts of the country, as well as London, Paris or Sydney. They had started real reflections on police methods and racism in general.
Convictions for police murder are rare in the United States. This time, Derek Chauvin’s past and the fact that the intervention was filmed make it difficult to dispute the facts. TONo member of the profession has spoken in support of the accusedwhich is extremely rare, Ashley Heiberger, a former police officer turned counseling and training officer, told AFP on March 7.
The judgment will also be filmed and streamed live across the United States.
When will the verdict be rendered?
The verdict is not expected to be delivered before the end of April.. In fact, the trial is only in the early stages. The selection of the first jurors has begun, but it is a real headache. In fact it is necessary find jurors who have not yet falsified their opinion, despite the intense debate that has taken place in the United States on the subject.
Before the trial, citizens were sent a questionnaire of about fifteen pages drawn to ask them how many times they had seen the video of the arrest or if they had participated in demonstrations. The “jury consultants” also sifting through social media to search for comments left by potential recruits or messages or photos posted during the demos.
Several potential jurors have also confided that they are concerned for your safety, even if their anonymity is protected and the cameras filming audiences must keep them out of the frame.
In-depth discussions with the jurors should start March 29. The deliberation time is expected to begin in the second half of April, and the verdict must be unanimously pronounced by the 12 members.