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MINNEAPOLIS — Ex-cop Derek Chauvin used “reasonable force” during his fatal restraint of George Floyd, his lawyer said during closing arguments at Chauvin’s murder trial Monday.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson told the jury in Hennepin County District Court that Chauvin acted appropriately when he pinned Floyd, who was handcuffed, to the ground on May 25, 2020, “in light of the totality of the facts.”
“A reasonable officer wants to keep his fellow officers safe,” Nelson said. “A reasonable police officer takes into account the safety of civilians. The police officer, a reasonable police officer takes into account the safety of the person they’re arresting.”
As he did during opening arguments, Nelson also told the panel that the case is about more than the viral videos that show Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes.
“Throughout the course of this trial, the state has focused your attention on 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” Nelson 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.
“And the proper analysis starts with, ‘What did the officers, and what would a reasonable officer know at the time of dispatch?’” he said.
He suggested that prosecutors, who repeatedly showed jurors footage of the deadly incident, only played portions of the videos — which didn’t tell the whole story.
Nelson began his statements by reminding the jury that prosecutors must prove Chauvin’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and that the ex-cop has “the presumption of innocence.”
“We have to be intellectually honest about the evidence,” Nelson told jurors. “We have to present it in an honest and intellectually cohesive and coherent manner.”
Chauvin, 45, faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in Floyd’s police-custody death in the Minnesota city.
Prosecutors delivered their closing arguments Monday morning and will be given a rebuttal after the defense closings later in the day.
Viral video of Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests for racial justice and against police brutality, with the volatile case putting authorities in Minneapolis and beyond on high alert in anticipation of the verdict.
The Hennepin County District Court building has been barricaded, with a beefed-up police force and National Guard troops on standby as tension mounts on the eve of jury deliberations.
The 12-member panel is made up of three black men, one black woman, four white women, two white men, and two women who identify as multiracial.
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