The first trial in the death of George Floyd is underway. Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer filmed with his knee on Floyd’s neck in May, faces murder and manslaughter charges for the encounter that sparked months of historic protests around the world.
The trial has been described as one of the most important in the nation’s history, a potential barometer of change in a country where police officers are rarely punished for abusive behavior and fatal tactics used on the job.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died May 25 after he spent several minutes crying out for breath underneath Chauvin’s knee on a South Minneapolis street. Chauvin, who is White, was the senior officer on the scene responding to a store clerk’s claim that a customer passed a counterfeit $20 bill. The 44-year-old veteran officer led others in holding down Floyd until he lost consciousness and a pulse. The final minutes of Floyd’s life were captured on a teenage girl’s viral cellphone video.
Testimony in the Chauvin case is expected to last about four weeks — with the jury expected to begin deliberations in late April or early May. A trial for the three other officers implicated in Floyd’s death — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — is scheduled for August.
Here’s what you need to know about the trial as it unfolds.