Eight minutes and 46 seconds. The The trial of the white police officer accused of the murder of George Floyd got under way on Monday, March 29, with the broadcast, at the start of the accusation’s statement, of the video of the African-American’s ordeal.
Derek Chauvin a “betrayed” his police oath and made “excessive and unreasonable use of force” against the black forty-something, immediately denounced the prosecutor Jerry Blackwell. “We will prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Chauvin is far from innocent”, he told the jurors, reminding them of the length of time the policeman remained kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, pinned to the ground and handcuffed. He then showed them a video of the drama, filmed by a passerby.
On this world-touring recording, George Floyd groans, gasps, pleads and says “I can’t breathe”, before losing consciousness. The images of his ordeal sparked giant demonstrations across the United States but also in Asia and Europe.
Despite this mobilization, this trial is “not the police trial or police methods”, insisted the prosecutor. For him, the police “do a hard job and sometimes have to make decisions in a fraction of a second”. But, he continued, “That is not the case here”, the scene lasted “479 seconds, not a fraction of a second”, he hammered.
Derek Chauvin’s lawyer for his part assured that his client had acted in accordance with his training. He asked jurors to focus on the facts, away from any political considerations.
Just before the hearing, George Floyd’s family had instead emphasized the dimension “historical” of this trial. It is “a referendum on the road traveled by America in its quest for equality and justice for all”, said Ben Crump, the lawyer for the Floyd family. “Chauvin is on the dock, but America is on trial“, added Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist who, with relatives of George Floyd, knelt in silence for about nine minutes, in reference to the plight of the victim.