The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, opened Monday with prosecutors showing in court the nine-minute, 29-second video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
“Nine-two-nine,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors during his opening statement. “The three most important numbers in the case.”
The video, taken by a bystander, shows Chauvin restraining Floyd, facedown, with his knees on his neck and back. Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” 27 times as onlookers plead with Chauvin to stop.
The footage touched off protests across the U.S. last summer. But jurors seated for the trial said during jury selection that they had not seen the video in its entirety.
During the first four minutes, Floyd can be heard crying out for his mother and saying, “Tell my kids I love them.”
“My stomach hurts,” he says. “My neck hurts. Everything hurts.”
In the last five minutes, Floyd appears to be unresponsive. But Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck, even when an ambulance arrived.
“He’s not f***ing moving!” one bystander can be heard saying. “Get off of his neck!”
“Did they just kill him?” another asked.
According to Blackwell, a number of bystanders at the scene “called the police on the police.”
And a 911 dispatcher who was watching the incident through a fixed security camera also called the police, Blackwell said.
Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death was declared a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, which concluded that the 46-year-old died from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” The report also listed “other significant conditions,” including heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and “recent methamphetamine use.”
The defense is expected to argue that those “other significant conditions” are what ultimately killed Floyd, and that Chauvin should not be held criminally responsible.
Chauvin is standing trial on charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Before opening statements, lawyers and advocates for the Floyd family, including Benjamin Crump and the Rev. Al Sharpton, held a press conference outside the courthouse. They concluded it by kneeling for nearly nine minutes.
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