Jurors began deliberations on Monday after closing arguments in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd last year.

In their final arguments, both the prosecution and defense focused on reasonable doubt. Prosecutors argued that there is none, and that the jury can believe what it sees on video — Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes — and trust the expert testimony that has been given.

“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said. “It’s exactly what you saw with your eyes. … This wasn’t policing. This was murder.”

Chauvin attorney Eric J. Nelson suggested that a “reasonable police officer” would find that the 17 minutes before Chauvin acted would be relevant, adding that witness perception of Floyd’s death might not fully capture what happened.

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12:30 a.m.
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Minn. governor says police goal is de-escalation, non-confrontation in potential post-verdict protests

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) said the state police’s goal is “de-escalation and non-confrontation at all chances” in response to any protests that emerge once the verdict in the Chauvin trial is announced.

Walz spoke at a joint news conference Monday alongside Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter (D) to address concerns over police response that have heightened in the past week after state and local law enforcement clashed, sometimes violently, with protesters and members of the news media.

The governor said that there are no statewide, regional or city-specific curfews in effect but that leaders may implement them as necessary.

The jury in the Chauvin trial began deliberations Monday.

The governor has been cautious in striking a balance among community members weary of police force, citizens scarred from the destruction wrought during last year’s protests of Floyd’s death, First Amendment protections and the interests of the state law enforcement agencies that answer to him.

A letter sent Saturday to Walz on behalf of more than two dozen press advocacy groups and news organizations, including The Washington Post, called on the Minnesota State Patrol to embrace the language of a temporary restraining order and halt arrests and physical assaults against reporters.

Asked Monday whether police have escalated tensions with demonstrators, Walz called it “a bit of a chicken and an egg.”

“I think it starts to feed on itself,” Walz said. He said the vast majority of protesters expressing their anger tell elected officials like him that if they don’t fix the underlying factors, they will continue to face people protesting in the streets.


A previous version of this article misstated the law enforcement agency involved. It is the Minnesota State Patrol, not the Minneapolis State Patrol. The article has been corrected.

10:32 p.m.
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Judge criticizes Waters remarks on Chauvin case

After the jury left the courtroom to begin its deliberations, Chauvin’s attorney made objections based on controversial remarks by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who said over the weekend in Minnesota that if Chauvin were to be found not guilty, protesters should get “more confrontational.”

The remarks, Nelson argued, had the effect of “threatening and intimidating the jury,and he added that the “pervasive” media coverage of the trial could have also influenced the jury.

Judge Peter Cahill conceded that Waters’s remarks “may have given” the defense an argument for appeal “that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” but later he said that he trusted that the jury was following instructions to not read or view the news, and that one congresswoman’s opinion “really doesn’t matter a whole lot anyway,” denying the defense motion for mistrial.

The judge also admonished elected officials who have made public statements about the case in a “disrespectful manner to the rule of law.”

“If they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful way and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect a co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent,” Cahill added.

9:43 p.m.
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Prosecutor points to Chauvin’s action in Floyd’s final minutes, says his ‘heart was too small’

The prosecution made its final arguments on April 19, rebutting defense arguments that drug use and high blood pressure led to George Floyd's death. (The Washington Post)

The prosecution ended its rebuttal by focusing on Chauvin’s actions in Floyd’s final moments.

Blackwell said Chauvin did not let up or get up, even after Floyd said more than two dozen times in the span of a few minutes that he could not breathe. Nor when he passed out and a pulse could not be found.

“Even when the ambulance comes, he doesn’t let up or get up, even though they have to come up and tap him before he will get up and get up off the body of Mr. George Floyd,” Blackwell said, touching his shoulder.

The prosecutor finished by pointing to what he called “the largest departure from the evidence.”

“You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that testimony. And now, having seen all the evidence and heard all the evidence, you know the truth, and the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”

9:24 p.m.
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Prosecutors rebut argument of multiple factors in Floyd’s death, focusing on Chauvin’s use of force

The prosecution rebutted, one by one, the factors that Chauvin’s team says contributed to Floyd’s death, arguing that expert witnesses and doctors laid out that the use of force by the defendant set off a chain of events that led to Floyd dying of a cardiopulmonary arrest.

“Mr. Chauvin’s conduct was a substantial cause, a substantial factor,” in Floyd’s death, the prosecution said.

Regarding Chauvin’s allegation of being concerned and feeling threatened by bystanders, which he said prompted him to keep his knee on Floyd’s neck, the prosecution reminded the jury that the “unruly” crowd — which included high school students and elderly people — never acted aggressively, that five armed officers were with Chauvin at all times and that they never called for backup.

The prosecution also noted that though the paramedics took longer than expected to respond, it was “not a reason to either use excessive force or to be indifferent to the fact that somebody is no longer breathing.”

Prosecutors also invoked testimony from doctors that Floyd did not present any symptoms of someone dying of a fentanyl overdose.

8:51 p.m.
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In closing rebuttal, prosecutors tell jurors, ‘It was what you saw. It was homicide’

The prosecution made its final arguments on April 19, rebutting defense arguments that drug use and high blood pressure led to George Floyd's death. (The Washington Post)

In its final words to the jury, the prosecution team in the Chauvin murder trial told jurors that after hours of witness testimony and replayed videos, the case was simple and came down to “common sense.”

“The fact that is so simple that a child can understand it. In fact, the child did understand it when the 9-year-old girl said, ‘Get off of him,’ ” prosecutor Blackwell said. “That’s how simple it was. Get off of him. Common sense.”

After the defense argued about what a reasonable officer would have done, Blackwell posed to jurors to trust in what they have seen in the multiple videos that were shown.

“You can believe your eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, it was what you thought it was,” he said. “It was what you saw. It was homicide.”

He added, “Why is it necessary to continue applying deadly restraint to a man who was defenseless, who is handcuffed, who is not resisting, who is not breathing, who doesn’t have a pulse, and to go on and do that for another three-plus minutes before the ambulance shows up, and then they continue doing it? How is that a reasonable exercise in the use of force?”

8:49 p.m.
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Floyd family, Sharpton speak out as final arguments are made

The Rev. Al Sharpton led a prayer for George Floyd's family outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on April 19. (Reuters)

MINNEAPOLIS — After hours of watching replays of the video of George Floyd’s death, Floyd’s family, lawyers and prominent supporters emerged during a recess to thank their community and prepare for what comes next.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, led a prayer for the family.

“Give this family the strength to endure the pain of watching this video over and over again,” Sharpton said.

He linked arms with Floyd’s brothers Rodney and Terrence Floyd. They bowed their heads. Gianna, Floyd’s 7-year-old daughter, was held by another family member. Behind them loomed the court building, where the defense counsel had just spoken for more than an hour.

For many, the looming verdict is being viewed as a litmus test for the criminal justice system and a symbol for the state of race relations in America.

“This country must come to terms with those that feel that blue uniforms are above the law and blue jeans makes them subject to the law,” Sharpton said. “We are fighting to make blue jeans and blue uniforms both subject to the law.”

Lawyer Ben Crump thanked community members and activists fighting for racial justice since Floyd’s death more than 10 months ago on May 25.

“We can be better than this, America,” Crump said.

When Rodney Floyd spoke, it was mostly to say thank you, particularly to the local community for “stepping up for George, stepping up for what’s right, what they believe in.”

After the brief prayer, the family headed back inside for another round of closing arguments.

8:33 p.m.
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Chauvin’s lawyer argues Floyd’s death could have been caused by a number of factors unrelated to officer’s actions

During the final arguments, defense attorney Nelson raised questions and hypothetical scenarios to underline the concept of reasonable doubt, arguing that Floyd’s death could have been the result of various contributing factors unrelated to Chauvin’s actions.

They included drug ingestion, heart disease and hypertension, as well as a delay in paramedics’ resuscitation efforts, Nelson said.

“There’s lots of what-ifs that could have happened. What could have happened, what should have happened. Lots of them in lots of regards,” Nelson said, urging the jury to analyze the case from the perspective “of a reasonable police officer at the precise moment with the totality of the circumstances when it comes to the use of force.”

Nelson argued that the state failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore Chauvin should be found not guilty on all counts.

8:16 p.m.
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Law enforcement emphasizes de-escalation in remarks ahead of Chauvin verdict

With the case set to go to the jury soon, law enforcement leaders in Minneapolis sought to present a unified front with community activists and emphasize that they intend to prioritize de-escalation during any protests.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told reporters that the coalition formed by law enforcement to respond to the trial’s aftermath “is not about arresting people” and that the agencies want to avoid using force unless absolutely necessary.

“We know that we have a city that is mourning, that is in grief,” Arradondo said. “The last thing we want to do is turn this into an enforcement situation.”

Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, emphasized that officers should seek to de-escalate confrontation.

“We all need to relax — law enforcement, citizens, everyone,” he said.

Representatives of several community and activist groups stood alongside police during the news conference and stressed in their own remarks that any response to the verdict should be peaceful. The Rev. Ian Bethel, of New Beginnings Baptist Church, said protesters “stand with law enforcement” and should demand from each other the same accountability they are demanding from police.

Minneapolis-area law enforcement has faced scrutiny in recent days for its response to protests over Daunte Wright’s death, including the use of chemical irritants and arrests of mostly peaceful protesters.

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson on Monday simultaneously defended his department and conceded that his officers’ response in Brooklyn Center was not ideal.

“We know we have to do better,” he said. “What happened the past few days wasn’t something we wanted. But we had to act to keep the city safe.”

6:58 p.m.
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Defense urges jury to consider ‘perspective of a reasonable police officer,’ not bystanders

Defense attorney Nelson told the jury that witness perception of Floyd’s death might not fully capture what happened last May.

At the end of the case, when we’re done with these arguments, the court will instruct you on how to deal with these biases and the perception issues,” he told the jury. “The court’s final instructions will guide you to try to recognize your biases, recognize what we bring to the table and analyze the evidence from the perspective of the evidence itself.”

Nelson illustrated his argument by pointing to paramedic Genevieve Hansen’s assessment of when emergency workers responded to the scene.

Hansen told the court she expected a response time of three minutes, but Nelson informed her that paramedics had been called about five minutes before she arrived on the scene, he said.

“Remember, we don’t look at this incident from the perspective of a bystander,” he said. “We do not look at this incident from the perspective of the people who are upset by it. We look at it from the perspective of a reasonable police officer.”

6:57 p.m.
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Defense suggests Chauvin could not have intended to kill Floyd if he knew he was being recorded on video

Defense attorney Eric J. Nelson asked jury members to consider the question of “intent” — and whether they could say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Chauvin intended to do what he did.

“The defendant must have knowledge of those facts that are necessary to make his conduct criminal,” Nelson said.

“Did Officer Chauvin intentionally apply unlawful force?” he asked. “That’s what you’re being asked to decide. Did he purposefully, purposefully apply unlawful force to another person?”

“Did he intentionally perform an act that was eminently dangerous?” he continued.

Nelson said that Chauvin is unlikely to have done these things intentionally, because he was being recorded on video.

“Officers know that they are being videotaped,” he said. “Do you do something purposefully that you know is an unlawful use of force when you have four body-worn cameras immediately in the area? Where you have multiple civilians videotaping you? Where you know your actions are being reviewed through a city-owned camera? Where there are surveillance cameras?”

6:51 p.m.
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Minnesota teenagers walk out of classrooms to honor Daunte Wright

Many Minnesota high school students walked out of their classrooms Monday to honor Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minn.

The walkout, organized by a group called Minnesota Teen Activists, urged students across the state to leave their schools from 1 p.m. to 1:47 p.m. local time, which is around when Wright was shot on April 11.

Instagram posts encouraged students to wear all black, bring protest signs and observe a moment of silence. Videos shared on social media from some of the schools showed dozens of students chanting and listening to speeches.

At Fridley High School, about 10 miles north of downtown Minneapolis, video showed a protest organizer reading the names of young people killed by police since 2020.

“So if you thought police brutality was just for adults, you thought wrong,” she told a crowd through a megaphone. “They are killing us. They’re killing the young people. They’re killing the future of this country.”

It was not immediately clear how many students participated in the protests.

6:47 p.m.
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Defense: Chauvin was reacting to crowd ‘in crisis,’ showing ‘signs of aggression’

Nelson argued that the “crowd” — the fewer than a dozen bystanders who were watching and shouting at Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd — was a crucial factor in Chauvin’s decision-making and actions.

“A reasonable police officer is recognizing that the crowd is in crisis,” Nelson said of the bystanders who pleaded and shouted at police to help Floyd. He reminded jurors of the “signs of aggression” that police learn about in their training. That’s what Chauvin was reacting to, he said.

“I cannot, in my opinion, understate the importance of this moment,” he said of the moment Floyd took his last breath.

At that precise moment, “three things happen” Nelson said. In addition to Floyd’s last breath, “you see Officer Chauvin’s reaction to the crowd is to pull his mace and shake it — he’s threatening the use of force.” And at the same time, another witness comes up behind him. “startling him,” he added.

“And that changed Officer Chauvin’s perception of what was happening,” Nelson said. The implication was that Chauvin felt that he was in danger.

5:50 p.m.
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Defense argues that 9 minutes and 29 seconds do not present full picture

Defense attorney Eric Nelson gave his closing statement in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on April 19. (The Washington Post)

Defense attorney Nelson told the court that the state’s cornerstone for prosecuting Chauvin — the amount of time he knelt of Floyd’s neck — does not address how reasonable police officers should respond.

“Throughout the course of this trial, the state has focused your attention on 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” he said. “The proper analysis is to take those 9 minutes and 29 seconds and put it into the context of the totality of the circumstances that a reasonable police officer would know.”

Nelson argued that the time prior is relevant.

It’s not the proper analysis because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” he said later. “It completely disregards it. It says in that moment, at that point nothing else that happened before should be taken into consideration by a reasonable police.”

Nelson also said the jury must consider the neighborhood knowledge that an officer would have when responding to a scene, the suspect and dispatcher Jena Scurry, who testified earlier in the trial.

Of what a reasonable police officer would know, in this circumstance is that a business is requesting [service], it’s how the suspect is still there,” Nelson said. “He’s large, and he’s possibly under the influence of alcohol or something else.”

Nelson reminded the jury that Scurry said her training had convinced her there were sounds of struggles on the call for which multiple officers were sent in response.

Floyd’s statements about being claustrophobic as officers tried to put him in the police car were interpreted as resistance by a trained, reasonable officer, Nelson argued.

Controlled takedowns, conscious neck restraints, these are options available to Mr. Chauvin at this point,” Nelson said. “He has, per his training, these techniques at his disposal. A reasonable police officer would be making these observations.”

5:22 p.m.
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Space aliens and chocolate chip cookies: Defense offers unusual analogies in making case for ‘reasonable doubt’

In his closing statement, defense attorney Eric J. Nelson reminded jurors that they cannot convict Chauvin unless they are certain of his guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“Essentially, what the state has to convince you is that … the evidence in this case completely eliminate[s] any reasonable doubt or, in other words, leaving only unreasonable doubt,” Nelson said.

A “capricious doubt” of Chauvin’s guilt — which is not grounds for a not-guilty verdict — would be something like “space aliens flew in, inhabited the body of Derek Chauvin and caused this stuff,” Nelson said. “That’s fanciful.”

The implication, however, was that a less fanciful explanation could easily constitute a reasonable doubt. “‘Beyond the reasonable doubt’ — it is the highest standard in the law,” he said.

When Nelson meets with clients, he offers another analogy, he told the jurors: A “criminal case is kind of like baking chocolate chip cookies. You have to have the necessary ingredients. You’ve got to have flour and sugar and butter and chocolate chips, whatever else goes into those chocolate chip cookies,” he said. “If you have all of the ingredients, you can make chocolate chip cookies.”

“But if you’re missing any one single ingredient, you can’t make chocolate chip cookies,” he added. “Criminal law works the same way. … The state has the burden of proving each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“If they are missing any one single element, any one single element, it is a not-guilty verdict,” he said.