Minneapolis (AP) – Nearly a year after the murder of unarmed African-American George Floyd during a police operation in the US, the trial of the white main defendant Derek Chauvin begins.
The former police officer is charged, among other things, with second-degree murder, which has resulted in 40 years in prison in the state of Minnesota. The trial begins today under tight security in the city of Minneapolis. First of all, the jury will be selected this week.
Floyd’s fate had sparked massive protests against police brutality and racism for months – even though the pandemic meant there were actually strict demands in many places. The protests shocked the United States on a historic scale. There were also demonstrations against racism in many other countries, including Germany – often under the slogan “Black Lives Matter”.
Floyd, 46, was killed in a brutal arrest in Minneapolis on May 25 last year. The police arrested him on suspicion of payment with a false $ 20 bill. They handcuffed him and pushed him to the ground in the street. Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s throat for eight minutes while Floyd begged him to breathe. “I can’t breathe,” he said several times. According to the autopsy, Floyd passed out and died. Videos of the operation – recorded by passers-by – spread like wildfire.
The expectations of the process are high. Many people, including perhaps most blacks, are hoping for a long sentence for Chauvin. They hope for a verdict that will set an example against racism and police brutality.
Chauvin, who was released after the incident and later released on bail, is charged with unintentional murder. According to German law, this charge would be more like manslaughter. The prosecution also charges him with second degree manslaughter. In Minnesota, this can be punished with an additional 10 years in prison. The prosecutor’s office also won an appeal court on Friday to accuse Chauvin of third-degree murder. They are detained for up to 25 years. The court has to agree. Chauvin must be present during the procedure.
After the jury is selected, the main trial will begin on March 29. According to the court, the hearing then lasts a maximum of four weeks. During this time, the jury is largely closed off from the public, the jury’s names remain secret. Corona has also severely limited the presence in the negotiating space on the 18th floor of the building. For example, only one representative from each of the Floyd and Chauvin families may be present, by order of Judge Peter Cahill. Only two journalists may be present, but the trial will be broadcast live.
Due to the process, the courthouse has been cordoned off with concrete barriers and fences. The police are widely deployed and the governor has also consented to the deployment of the National Guard. According to the media, the additional security measures will cost millions of dollars. After Floyd’s death, there were massive riots in Minneapolis, numerous shops and a police station went up in flames.
The remaining three ex-police officers involved in the operation against Floyd are accused of complicity. They will enter a separate trial from 23 August. If convicted, they too could face lengthy prison terms.