Jury in George Floyd murder trial to hear closing arguments
Published: Apr 19, 2021 05:38 PM
A jury is to hear closing arguments on Monday in the trial of the white ex-police officer accused of murdering African American George Floyd, a case that laid bare racial wounds in the US and has come to be seen as a pivotal test of police accountability.

People gather in Times Square at the red steps during a vigil for Daunte Wright who was shot by police, and other murder victims, on April 16, 2021 in New York City, the US. Photo: VCG

People gather in Times Square at the red steps during a vigil for Daunte Wright who was shot by police, and other murder victims, on Friday in New York City, the US. Photo: VCG

Derek Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge - second-degree murder. Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old black man lay handcuffed facedown in the street complaining he "can't breathe." Shown repeatedly to the jury during Chauvin's three-week trial, the harrowing video sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality around the world.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, said at the opening of the trial that there was "no political or social cause" in the courtroom, but it has coincided with rising tensions from two other high-profile police killings.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was shot dead in a Minneapolis suburb on April 11 by a white policewoman who apparently mistook her gun for her taser, and a 13-year-old boy was killed by police in Chicago.

Wright's killing triggered several nights of protests in Minneapolis, and ahead of a verdict in Chauvin's case National Guard troops have been deployed in the Minnesota city where shop windows have been boarded up as a precaution.

With tensions high as a possible verdict nears, two guard members were slightly injured after at least one person opened fire from a car on a team of troops and police early on Sunday in Minneapolis, authorities said.

"The outcome that we pray for in Derek Chauvin is for him to be held criminally liable for killing George Floyd," said Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd and Wright families.

"Killing unarmed black people is unacceptable," Crump told ABC News on Sunday. "We have to send that message to the police."

"Hold police officers accountable."

Among the 38 witnesses who testified for the prosecution were some of the bystanders who watched Floyd's May 25, 2020 arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Darnella Frazier, the teenager who took the video that went viral, said Floyd was "scared" and "begging for his life."

"It wasn't right. He was suffering," Frazier said.