Derek Chauvin, left, appeared in court on Monday charged with murdering George Floyd. Opening arguments are set to begin in the coming days (Pictures: Reuters/AP)
Alleged killer police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial over the murder of George Floyd has kicked-off amid a huge security presence. Former Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin appeared in court in Minneapolis on Monday as prosecutors and defense lawyers sparred over jury selection.
Chauvin, charged with the May 2020 murder of Floyd, wore a gray suit and black face mask for Monday’s hearing. It also saw prosecutors seek to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. He currently faces more serious charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Monday’s trial, at Hennepin County Court in Minneapolis, is being guarded by 2,000 National Guard officers deployed across the Minnesota city. They are on high alert after Floyd’s murder sparked looting and rioting across Minneapolis and much of the United States last summer.
The 12 jurors who will try Chauvin are set to face a barrage of questions about their views on police and the criminal justice system before being impaneled. Prosecutors will open the trial in the coming days, with proceedings set to last several weeks.
A huge security operation is in place outside the court in Minneapolis where Chauvin will be tried in the coming weeks (Picture: AP)
Chauvin triggered worldwide fury after he was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds on May 25 2020 while Floyd gasped ‘I can’t breathe.’ He eventually passed out, and later died.
Chauvin and three colleagues apprehended Floyd after the security guard, a father of two, was accused of trying to pass a fake $20 bill at a convenience store.
The clip of Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests, and an ongoing discussion about police brutality faced by African Americans.
Defense lawyers for Chauvin are likely to claim Floyd’s death was an accident, with his health worsened by synthetic painkiller fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system during a subsequent autopsy.
The other three cops involved in Floyd’s death – J Alexander Kueung, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
They deny the charges they face, and will be tried at a later date.
All four officers were fired following Floyd’s death.
The hearing continues.
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