The prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments Monday in a Hennepin County courtroom in the trial of former Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd last May.
Judge Peter A. Cahill delivered his instructions to the jury, then allowed the prosecution to proceed. Steve Schleicher, appointed to the case by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, delivered an emotional presentation, arguing that Chauvin had ignored his police training, as well as Floyd’s desperate pleas for air, as he knelt on his neck and caused his death.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson attempted to pick apart the prosecution’s case, element by element. He reminded the jury that Chauvin began with a presumption of innocence, and reminded them that the prosecution had to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt — a standard that CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates suggested was a hint of weakness in Chauvin’s defense.
— Laura Coates (@thelauracoates) April 19, 2021
Nelson argued that Chauvin lacked the requisite intent for second-degree murder, the most serious charge facing Chauvin. And he argued that given the other possible causes of Floyd’s death, including drugs, heart disease, and carbon monoxide, Chauvin could not be convicted for third-degree (unintentional) murder or for second-degree manslaughter.
…Nelson hit Dr. Tobin's testimony particularly hard and effectively. He also was effective in attacking witnesses and the prosecution discarding the role of other factors in the cause of death. It is likely that the jury would view these factors as contributing to the death.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) April 19, 2021
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell was then given an opportunity to rebut Nelson’s arguments, telling jurors to trust their “common sense” about the video of Floyd’s death, insisting that they could believe what it appeared to show about Chauvin’s culpability.
Ellison sat behind the prosecution in the courtroom during the closing arguments.
Update: After the jury left, the defense raised several concerns, including the comments by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) this weekend that there ought to be unrest unless Chauvin were found guilty. Nelson repeated his earlier complaints that the jury had not been sequestered.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.