The Derek Chauvin murder trial heard closing arguments on Monday before the jury began considering a verdict over the death of George Floyd that is anxiously awaited by millions of Americans.
Tensions are high in Minneapolis, with hundreds of national guard soldiers deployed. Last year, video of the former police officer’s alleged killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, prompted days of protests, riots and looting, and demonstrations across the US and world.
Protests flared up again earlier this month, over the shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, by officers during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb.
Many Americans have reached their own verdict in the Chauvin case, and see the trial as part of a reckoning in the broader struggle for racial justice. Nonetheless, on Monday lawyers focused on persuading the jury.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said the key to the case lay in video footage of Chauvin pressing his knee on to Floyd’s neck even as he pleaded for his life, right to his very last words of “I can’t breathe”.
“This case is exactly what you saw with your eyes. It’s what you know in your heart,” he said.