MINNEAPOLIS — The jurors who are weighing evidence in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, adjourned without reaching a verdict on Monday night after their first four hours of deliberations.
The five men and seven women on the jury will be sequestered in a hotel each night until they reach a verdict or determine that they cannot all agree. The jurors began to deliberate for the first time at 4 p.m. Central time on Monday, following hours of closing arguments from prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer. They adjourned at 8 p.m., a court spokesman said.
Members of the jury are expected to continue deliberating on Tuesday morning as the Twin Cities region remains on edge over the verdict and possible unrest afterward.
The jurors include four white women, two white men, three Black men, one Black woman, and two women who identified themselves as multiracial. They range in age from their 20s to their 60s.
The jurors must unanimously agree in order to convict or acquit Mr. Chauvin on any of the three charges he is facing in George Floyd’s death: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. If they are unable to agree on a verdict and instead determine that they are deadlocked on the charges, the case would end in a mistrial and prosecutors could decide to try it again.
Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota declared a “peacetime emergency” in the metropolitan Minneapolis area on Monday as the jury began deliberations in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. The governor promised to protect protesters’ rights, but called for more resources to prevent the kind of property destruction that happened during the unrest that followed George Floyd’s death last year.
Law enforcement officers patrolling metropolitan Minneapolis have been overwhelmed by nightly protests since April 11, when a white police officer in the suburb of Brooklyn Center shot and killed a Black man, Governor Walz said in an executive order on Monday.
The order would allow police officers from neighboring states to be called in if needed, joining more than 3,000 National Guard troops and about 1,000 police officers already on duty.
“Local and state resources have been fully deployed, but they are inadequate to address the threat,” Mr. Walz said in his order. “Recent events in Brooklyn Center have exhausted Minnesota’s local and state resources and are likely to hamper our ability to provide public safety and protect critical infrastructure.”
Mr. Walz’s declaration came as Minneapolis braced for potential unrest over a possibly imminent verdict in Mr. Chauvin’s murder trial.
The governor promised to allow peaceful protests, but warned against any violence like that seen last summer, which he said had destroyed more than 1,000 businesses. “We cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos,” he said at a news conference on Monday.
He accepted responsibility for not enacting changes to policing and criminal justice, including the cash bail system and the use of traffic stops, that he and other leaders had promised last year after Mr. Floyd’s death. He said progress on those changes had stalled.
The governor said the deaths of Black men like Mr. Floyd or Daunte Wright, the man killed in Brooklyn Center, were unacceptable. Community leaders must listen to protesters who are calling for “change, or we will be right back here again,” he said at the news conference. “We cannot continue to live like this.”
“This is the epicenter of justice and change,” Fedrick Ingram said in George Floyd Square on Monday. “Where else would you rather be?”
Mr. Ingram, 47, said he flew in from Tallahassee, Fla., in the morning and made his way to 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis to lend support to the community during closing arguments in the murder trial of Derick Chauvin.
He had traded 90-degree weather in Florida for snow flurries in Minnesota, but he said he didn’t mind. As a Black man and an educator — he is a high school band director, past president of the Florida Education Association and secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers — he has visited Minneapolis several times since the unrest erupted over Mr. Floyd’s death.
“We fight for social justice every day,” Mr. Ingram said. “This impacts schools. It impacts teachers. It impacts families, and that all impacts the work that we do every day. It’s not only important to this community, it’s also important to the nation.”
Mr. Ingram said he doesn’t view himself an activist, but “when I see those kinds of atrocities happen to people that look like me — that look like my son and look like my family members — it’s painful.” And he added, “The American ideal deserves better.”
He said he couldn’t predict what would happen in the trial or on the streets afterward. “Whatever the judicial system comes up with, we hope that it’s fair,” he said. “Fair to the family, fair to our society of Americans at large who are watching every day.”
He said teachers needed to be part of the solution to the nation’s racial divide. “Every day in the schools, we try to teach our kids value systems, moral values, character values — we try to teach them how to get through life,” he said.
The verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is now in the hands of 12 jurors after prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer made closing arguments on Monday.
Jerry W. Blackwell, a prosecutor, had the final word before jurors were sent out of the courtroom to begin deliberating over a verdict in the trial of Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death.
Mr. Blackwell painted the nearly three hours of closing arguments from Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer as misleading “stories” and said they did not hold up to scrutiny. Mr. Blackwell’s comments came during a portion of the trial in which the prosecution is allowed a rebuttal. Another prosecutor had made closing arguments for the state earlier in the day.
Mr. Blackwell suggested the arguments from Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, bordered on preposterous and urged jurors to use “common sense” to evaluate the evidence and find Mr. Chauvin guilty.
In his final comments to jurors, Mr. Blackwell brought up another argument of Mr. Nelson’s, that Mr. Floyd’s enlarged heart could be partially responsible for his death.
“You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big,” Mr. Blackwell said. “You heard that testimony. And now having seen all the evidence, having 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.”
Earlier, Mr. Blackwell had also argued that Mr. Chauvin was not the one in fear during his encounter with Mr. Floyd on May 25. He showed a photograph of Mr. Chauvin’s face as he knelt on Mr. Floyd, then showed a photograph of Mr. Floyd’s face as another officer approached him with a gun raised. Mr. Floyd’s face was what fear looked like, the prosecutor said.
He said Mr. Nelson, by arguing that Mr. Floyd’s underlying health conditions may have caused his death, was arguing that “he just happened to die at the same time, in the same place, of factors completely unrelated to what Mr. Chauvin was doing.”
To illustrate what he said was the absurdity of this argument, Mr. Blackwell showed a graphic with more than 17,000 dots to represent each day of Mr. Floyd’s life. Every one of those days, Mr. Blackwell said, Mr. Floyd was alive and breathing, until Mr. Chauvin knelt on him for more than nine minutes.
Mr. Blackwell said that 45 witnesses had testified in the trial, but that common sense was the “46th witness,” and one that jurors should take back to deliberations with them. The 12 jurors will be sequestered until they make a decision on each of the three charges; they must be unanimous to convict.
The lawyer for Derek Chauvin argued on Monday that the former officer had acted reasonably when he knelt on George Floyd for more than nine minutes, imploring jurors to also consider the moments before officers took Mr. Floyd to the ground as they begin to debate whether to convict or acquit Mr. Chauvin.
Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, said in his closing argument that there was much more to the case than the moments that had been captured on a cellphone video and seen by the world. Mr. Nelson argued that there was at least reasonable doubt about two vital issues: whether Mr. Chauvin’s actions were allowed under Minneapolis Police Department policies and whether Mr. Chauvin had caused Mr. Floyd’s death. Jurors must believe that prosecutors have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict.
The prosecution made its closing argument earlier on Monday, and another prosecutor will have a chance to rebut Mr. Nelson’s argument later in the day, after which the 12 jurors who have listened to three weeks of testimony will begin to deliberate over a verdict. They must be unanimous to convict Mr. Chauvin of any of the three charges he faces: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
For nearly three hours, Mr. Nelson focused on Mr. Chauvin’s decision-making and on what factors may have caused Mr. Floyd’s death. He emphasized that the jury instructions say that no crime has been committed if a police officer was justified in using reasonable force and that jurors should determine what is justified by considering what “a reasonable police officer in the same situation would believe to be necessary.”
Determining what is necessary, Mr. Nelson argued, requires paying close attention to the moments before officers put Mr. Floyd face down on the ground, when they tried to get a handcuffed Mr. Floyd into the back of a police car, which he resisted, saying he was claustrophobic. Prosecutors have repeatedly noted the exact amount of time — nine minutes and 29 seconds — that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd, but Mr. Nelson said that was but one piece of evidence.
“It’s not the proper analysis, because the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said. He added: “A reasonable police officer would, in fact, take into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds.”
Mr. Nelson has argued throughout the trial that a group of bystanders who were yelling for officers to get off Mr. Floyd and check his pulse had actually taken officers’ attention away from Mr. Floyd’s declining health. On Monday, he highlighted the moment in which experts have said Mr. Floyd took his last breath, pointing out that at the same time, an off-duty firefighter and another bystander had moved closer to Mr. Chauvin, prompting the officer to pull out his mace.
“Human beings make decisions in highly-stressful situations that they believe to be right in the very moment it is occurring,” Mr. Nelson said.
Mr. Nelson also criticized the prosecutors’ medical experts, many of whom had testified that Mr. Chauvin’s actions were the main cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, saying their testimony “flies in the absolute face of reason and common sense.” He particularly singled out the testimony of Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who he said had selectively chosen screenshots that clouded the context of full videos.
“Do not let yourselves be misled by a single still frame image,” Mr. Nelson said. “Put the evidence in its proper context.”
Mr. Nelson said he was not arguing that Mr. Floyd had died of an overdose, but that jurors must consider a broad range of factors about what could have caused Mr. Floyd’s death, including the poor health of his heart and the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system.
Mr. Nelson said that when jurors considered all of the evidence, they would conclude that prosecutors have not reached their burden.
“The state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore Mr. Chauvin should be found not guilty of all counts,” he said.
Eric Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, said in his closing arguments that Mr. Chauvin did not mean to hurt George Floyd, pointing out that the arresting officers called for an ambulance twice while holding Mr. Floyd down.
All of the evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought he was following his training. He was, in fact, following his training. He was following Minneapolis police department policies. He was trained this way. It all demonstrates a lack of intent. There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied an unlawful force.
Although this trial is the first in Minnesota history to be televised, Judge Peter A. Cahill has placed strict restrictions on what the cameras can capture. There have been no close-ups during dramatic moments and no shots of the jurors.
Two members of the news media are allowed in the courtroom at any given time, and there is room for only one member of Mr. Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s.
While the judge’s orders may seem restrictive, the normal court rules in Minnesota forbid any visual or audio trial coverage without the consent of both sides (in this case, the prosecution objected on the grounds that it could make witnesses reluctant to testify). Even with consent, the normal rules say there can be no audio coverage of potential jurors during jury selection, witnesses can decline to be shown and any motions heard outside of the jury’s presence are out of bounds.
But because the pandemic has placed sharp restrictions on the number of people who can be in the courtroom, Judge Cahill wrote that allowing cameras to capture the proceedings was the only way to ensure the right to a public trial. During jury selection, the candidates were heard, but not seen.
In his closing arguments, Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, walked jurors through the different perspectives of the police officers during the arrest of George Floyd, at one point focusing on the moment they struggled to put Mr. Floyd in the patrol car.
The futility of their efforts became apparent. They weren’t able to get him into the car. Three Minneapolis police officers were not able to get Mr. Floyd into the car. They themselves are experiencing that, that surge of adrenaline. A reasonable police officer will be experiencing that surge of a jump of adrenaline and again, balancing all of the evidence against each other.
Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, reminded jurors that a police officer’s job is fluid and that officers are constantly taking into consideration the situation and how it might change.
And then you look at the direct knowledge that a reasonable police officer would have at the precise moment force was used. That includes information that they gather from dispatch, their direct observations of the scene, the subjects and the current surroundings. They have to take into consideration whether the suspect — the suspect — was under the influence of a controlled substance. They can take into consideration — because, again, this is a dynamic and ever changing, just like life, things change, it’s a dynamic situation, it’s fluid — they take into account their experience with the subject at the beginning, the middle, the end. They try to — a reasonable police officer — tries to predict or is at least cognizant and concerned about future behavior, based upon past behavior. But the unpredictability of humans factors into the reasonable police officer’s analysis, too, because sometimes people take — reasonable police officers — take someone into custody with no problem, and suddenly they become a problem. It can change in an instant.
The last three weeks of the Derek Chauvin trial provided jurors with a comprehensive understanding of George Floyd’s final moments, pieced together from hours of video and witness testimony. But there is one part of the case that lawyers for both sides have spent little time on: the $20 bill that brought the police to the scene in the first place.
Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd on May 25, was one of four officers who took part in the arrest, which began when a clerk for the Cup Foods convenience store called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
In opening statements, a prosecutor showed jurors a photograph of two $20 bills that had the same serial number, suggesting that they were counterfeit. One of the bills was ripped in two, a sign that the other one may have been the bill that Mr. Floyd used to buy cigarettes, though prosecutors did not discuss the photograph in more detail.
“The police officers could have written him a ticket, and let the courts sort it out,” Jerry W. Blackwell, the prosecutor, told jurors during opening statements.
In his closing arguments for the prosecution, Steve Schleicher again brought up the reason for the arrest. “This was a call about a counterfeit $20 bill,” he said. “All that was required was some compassion.”
Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, has spent little time discussing the bill, in what could be a sign that he believes it would be unproductive to link Mr. Chauvin’s response to Mr. Floyd’s supposed offense. Instead, he has focused on Mr. Floyd’s actions after the police arrived.
The Minneapolis Police Department has also said little about the bill since its initial report in May, which noted that police officers had been responding to a “forgery in progress.” A spokesman for the department referred questions about the bill to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state agency that led the investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death. Officials at the agency declined to answer several questions about the bill, saying they could not discuss evidence while a court case was ongoing and an investigation remained open.
Christopher Martin, the teenage clerk who accepted the $20 bill from Mr. Floyd, testified on the third day of the trial that he quickly recognized it as fake because it had an unusual blue pigmentation.
Mr. Martin, 19, said a friend of Mr. Floyd’s had come in earlier and also tried to use a fake $20 bill but was rebuffed. Mr. Martin said he thought Mr. Floyd, unlike his friend, had not realized that the bill was fake. “I thought I’d be doing him a favor” by accepting it, Mr. Martin said.
He testified that he told a manager at the store about the fake bill and that the manager told him to ask Mr. Floyd to come back inside. When Mr. Floyd twice refused, the manager had another employee call 911. Mr. Martin said he later felt “disbelief and guilt” that his actions had led to the police confrontation with Mr. Floyd.
Nearly a year after Mr. Floyd’s death, it remains unclear where the bill came from and whether Mr. Floyd committed the crime that brought police officers to the scene.
Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin, urged jurors in his closing statements to presume that Mr. Chauvin is innocent and then compare what he described as conflicting facts in the prosecution’s case that Mr. Chauvin killed George Floyd.
You can’t come in and say, George Floyd, on the one hand, ‘George Floyd died of asphyxiation, but he had a 98 percent oxygen level.’ All right? His blood is oxygenated. Then it is stands to reason, the opposite is true as well. You can’t come in and say, ‘I can conclusively prove that Mr. Floyd didn’t have carbon monoxide in his blood because he had this high oxygen saturation.’ You test one statement against the evidence of other people, and you compare it. That is what you, as jurors, are obligated to do. And what I am asking you to do, compare the evidence against itself, test it, challenge it, compare it to the law, read the instructions in their entirety. Start from the point of the presumption of innocence and see how far the state can get. I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher told jurors in his closing arguments that officer Derek Chauvin made the choice, over and over, to hurt George Floyd. Recalling the testimony of a 9-year-old witness and many others at the scene who urged Mr. Chauvin to stop kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, Mr. Schleicher said that even a child could see that the arresting officer’s actions were not justified.
He could have listened to the bystanders. He could have listened to fellow officers. He could have listened to his own training. He knew better. He just didn’t do better. He knew that kneeling on somebody’s neck — in addition to the positional asphyxia, just the pressure — is dangerous. Anyone can tell you that — a nine year old can tell you that, did tell you that.
Throughout the trial of Derek Chauvin, jurors have repeatedly been shown the harrowing last minutes of George Floyd’s life on a Minneapolis street corner last May, captured in surveillance video, bystander cellphone videos and body camera footage from the police.
Between the defense and the prosecution, the videos of Mr. Floyd’s arrest and death, including partial clips, were played, paused and replayed in court at least a dozen times, mostly by the prosecution.
On Monday, Steve Schleicher, a lawyer for the prosecution, walked the jury through the video once more during closing arguments. He paused it at several key moments, including when an officer approached Mr. Floyd’s car wielding a gun and when Mr. Floyd pleaded with the officers, who were trying to push him into the back seat of the police car, as he explained that he was claustrophobic.
In his closing arguments for the prosecution, Steve Schleicher told jurors that when officer Derek Chauvin, the defendant, arrested George Floyd last May, he failed to do what people expect from police officers — listen and help.
This was a call about a counterfeit $20 bill. All that was required was some compassion. Humans need that. People need that. But more fundamental than that and more practical at that time, in that place, what George Floyd needed was some oxygen. That’s what he needed. He needed to breathe because people need that. Humans need that to breathe. And he said that, and the defendant heard him say that over and over. He heard him, but he just didn’t listen. He continued to push him down, to grind into him, to shimmy, to twist his hand for nine minutes and 29 seconds. He begged, George Floyd begged, until he could speak no more. And the defendant continued this assault. When he was unable to speak, the defendant continued. When he was unable to breathe, the defendant continued beyond the point that he had a pulse.
Minneapolis Public Schools will shift to remote learning later this week in anticipation of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, Ed Graff, the district superintendent, said in a notice sent to the school community last week.
The schools will shift to remote learning from Wednesday through Friday, but if the trial schedule changes, the district will “re-evaluate, adjust plans and let families and students know as soon as possible,” the letter said.
Monday marked the first return to the classroom for sixth-grade students in Minneapolis Public Schools since the start of the pandemic. Seventh and eighth graders will return on Tuesday at most schools, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis Public Schools said. Most high schools returned last week, and elementary schools in February. All grades will shift to remote learning for the trial verdict.
School buildings will remain open, but athletic events and child care will not take place, the letter said. The shift to remote learning does not interrupt boxed meals that are available for students.
The notice also said that age-appropriate resources had been provided to teachers to aid in classroom discussion about the “racism and violence that has been highlighted in these tragic incidents.”
“As appropriate and as they are comfortable, teachers will give students the opportunity to process their feelings, how this feels to them personally and how they are impacted by having the eyes of the world on Minneapolis,” the letter said.
The Minneapolis Public School district serves more than 35,000 students in the Minneapolis area.