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tv   The Trial of Derek Chauvin  BBC News  April 24, 2021 12:30am-1:00am BST

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now on bbc news — the death of george floyd in minneapolis in may 2020 sparked a public outcry that swept across america and the world. after weeks of closely—watched testimony, thejury has reached a verdict on the former police officer charged with killing george floyd. nada tawfik reports on the outcome and the impact of one of the most important trials america has ever witnessed. a warning, this programme contains distressing images. what's his name? george floyd! the death of george floyd in minneapolis last may sparked a public outcry that swept across america and the world. no racist police! black lives matter! the horrific events caught
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on camera spurred a reckoning with america's history of racial injustice. chanting: we're not leaving! change once and for all was demanded to address the plight of black men and women at the hands of police — but also the lasting impact of slavery and colonialism. we are getting word this evening of some rock—throwing by youths in south—central los angeles. the response to george floyd's death was an echo of the outrage that followed another watershed moment captured on camera almost 30 years ago. in the intervening decades since the brutal beating of rodney king, many more names have come to haunt the public conscious. —— the public consciousness. we need every officer to be held accountable. and until then, it's still scary to be a black man or woman in america on account of the police. the trial of derek chauvin was one of the most important this country has ever seen — its impact really cannot be overstated. the conviction and incarceration of a former police officer is a major victory for those who've
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been calling for greater accountability for use of force. and the hope is the verdict will bring with it the power to begin healing america's deeply fractured race relations. chauvin is in the courtroom, but america's on trial! mr crump, nada tawfik with bbc. you're standing here with mothers who have to relive the pain every time there's another incident. i just wonder if you can talk about what it will mean if there is a guilty verdict in the chauvin trial. i honestly believe that a conviction in the chauvin trial for the killing of george floyd could set a precedent in america, where we will find police officers being held accountable and sent to prison for killing black people in america.
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you need to go back 30 years to understand why the trial of derek chauvin is so critical in the fraught history of us race relations. in march 1991, four white los angeles police officers were captured on amateur video. their batons raining down on a black man as he lay on the ground. rodney king, who was on parole, had led police on a high—speed chase. he was later charged with driving under the influence. in our review, we find that the officers struck him with batons between 53—56 times. fury over their acquittal resulted in violent protests and more than 60 deaths as los angeles burned. it set in motion an ongoing debate about race and the use of force by police. watching rodney king be beaten and kicked, and brutalised,
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and then seeing those police officers vindicated and exonerated was, i think, a turning point. we cannot take them as isolated incidents. there is a cumulative effect here. black people with a subway sandwich or a bag of skittles, or a telephone in their hand, or asleep in their own home, in their own bed are murdered consistently by police in the united states of america. 0n the evening of 25 may, 2020, police responded to a call from the manager of the cup foods store in minneapolis, who claimed a man had paid for cigarettes using a counterfeit $20 bill. graphic video from distraught onlookers caught the final fatal moments of the encounter. please, i can't breathe! george floyd was pinned down by police, face down and handcuffed on the street.
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0fficers put pressure on his back and legs, and derek chauvin kept his knee on mr floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. he's not responsive right now, bro! george floyd gasped and begged for air, calling out more than 20 times "i can't breathe" until he lost consciousness. let me see a pulse! chanting: no justice! no peace! the outrage at his death set minneapolis on fire and galvanised of the biggest protest movement since the civil rights era. the city quickly fired the four officers involved — and days later, derek chauvin, the officer seen kneeling on george floyd's neck became the first white police officer in minnesota to be charged with the death of a black civilian. former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin has been charged by the attorney's office with murder and with manslaughter. whose streets? 0ur streets! it promised to be one
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of the highest profile trials in decades. jury selection began march 9 on the 18th floor of this heavily fortified minneapolis courthouse. but the pandemic meant access was severely restricted — so thejudge, understanding the public interest, decided to make proceedings live with the eyes of the world watching. chauvin, a 19—year veteran of the force, pleaded not guilty. during his career, the former officer was praised for valour — but was also the subject of more than a dozen complaints. murder in the third - degree is reinstated... 0pening statements gave a preview of what to expect from both sides. the prosecutor urged jurors to believe their eyes. he told them what was caught on camera was murder, plain and simple. this case is about mr derek chauvin, and not about any of those men and women, and it's not about all policing at all. and this case is not about split—second decision—making. in nine minutes and 29 seconds,
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there are a79 seconds, not a split second among them. as the defence laid out its case, the lawyer for the former police officer argued in those minutes did not tell the full story. derek chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19—year career. the use of force is not attractive — but it is a necessary component for policing. a regular at the cup foods store, mr floyd had been living in minneapolis for several years after moving there from his native houston, texas. he had recently been working as a bouncer in the city — but, like millions of other americans, was leftjobless by the coronavirus pandemic. the widely—shared video of what happened here was exhibit a for the prosecution, and they wasted no time playing it in full to the jury. the court then heard in emotional testimony from those who witnessed george floyd died. what was unforgettable was how they harboured guilt and trauma all these months later,
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often breaking down in tears as they spoke. among the first to testify for the prosecution was store clerk christopher martin, who alerted his manager over concerns of the $20 note mr floyd had given him. when i saw the bill, i noticed that it had a blue pigment to it, kind of like how a $100 bill would have. and i found that odd, so i assumed that it was fake. he went outside several times to mr floyd's car to ask him to talk with his manager. later, he can be seen in this footage watching from the sidewalk with his hands on his head. what was going through your mind during that time period? disbelief. and guilt. why guilt? if i would've just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided. darnella frazier, who recorded mr floyd's arrest on her cell phone, told the court she started recording because george floyd looked terrified and in pain.
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it's been nights, i stayed up... i apologising to him. apologising to george floyd for not doing more, and notj physically interacting... and not saving his life. we saw some really emotional testimony from those who were there who witnessed george floyd die. what was it like seeing that through their eyes for you and the family? the testimony has been like a band—aid, and then, a scab that you peel off a wound, and it peels a little bit, and you keep peeling it off for the family the entire time. you could see the family saying this, that if someone would've just listened, he'd be here today and none of us would be
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here talking about this. prosecutors called witness after witness to bolster their case that chauvin�*s actions were clearly unreasonable to the people watching. bystander donald williams broke down on the stand as he listened to back to the call he made to emergency services. the defence tried to convince the jury that the crowd — presented as concerned citizens — were an angry mob that distracted the officers. it's fair to say that you grew angrierand angrier. no, i grew professional and professional. i stayed in my body. you can't paint me out to be angry. eric nelson's cross examination sparked criticism from some observers as playing on a harmful racist trope
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of an angry black man. again and again throughout the trial, the defence came back to the idea that the officers had been distracted by the watching crowd. peter chang, a minneapolis police officer who was present at the scene, testified about the behaviour of bystanders. they were very aggressive... aggressive towards the officers, yes. . did the volume increase? yes. and so, how were you reacting? were you splitting... how were you reacting to that? yes, i was focused on the car, but then i was concerned - for the officer's safety, too. but other officers who testified were not as helpful to the defence. one of the central questions before the jury was whether derek chauvin�*s use of force was excessive. for the first time in recent memory, police officers testified against one
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of their own. the so—called "blue wall of silence" didn'tjust fracture, it completely collapsed. the emergency call dispatcher who sent officers to the scene was watching the interaction on a fixed police camera. she said she knew something was wrong. wrong with what? what were you thinking? it was a gut instinct of... in the incident, something's not going right. whether it be they needed more assistance, or if... something just wasn't right. i don't know how to explain it, it was just a gut instinct to tell me that... now we can be concerned. and what did you decide to do? i took that instinct and i called the sergeant. i don't think it's - a coincidence of the first
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witness that the prosecution chose — the 911 operator — - they called her specifically because she's a member of the fraternity of law . enforcement, of course, i and she specifically stated that she called her supervisor and talked about being - a snitch, "i don't know if you want to call - me a snitch." that was big. in a remarkable move, the chief of police, the first black man to hold that position, testified chauvin violated department policies. 0nce mr floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should've stopped. to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that
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in no way, shape orform is anything that is by policy. lieutenant richard zimmerman, the longest serving officer in the department, also condemned mr chauvin�*s use of force — attacking a critical part of his defence that chauvin was trained to act in the way he did. totally unnecessary. what do you mean? well, first of all, pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. i saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger. how challenging was it for the defence to deal with that many officers coming up to speak against chauvin? it was big. in this trial, i think they had 38 witnesses for the state. i about half of them came from law enforcement i
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or first responders, - or people who in the past would've been shunned - by their peers if they had gone to testify against a cop in the way they did. i and in this trial, you saw i a panoply of police officers in his own departmentj testifying against him. that is a sea change the likes of which we've not seen - and would not have happened in the days of rodney king. i for the first time, the court and the public saw a police body cameras which documented the fatal arrest from beginning to end — including this call from chauvin to his supervisor. experts from both sides gave sharply differing evidence on the use of force. law professor and prosecution expert seth stoughton walked jurors through the body camera images. he was not a threat of harm to the officers. even to the extent that he had physical ability, he didn't
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have much in the way of opportunity to assault or harm the officers — and, just as importantly, there's no specific and articulable facts that a reasonable officer could use to indicate he had the intention of causing physical harm to officers or others. his evidence was contradicted by defence expert barry brodd. i felt that derek chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following minneapolis police department policy, in current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with mr floyd. you have to try to see it through the eyes of the officers on the scene. you know, what factors are they dealing with? what circumstances, what was the suspect doing? what were onlookers doing? were there environmental hazards? and then, try to put yourself in the officers' shoes to see if the decisions they made were objectively reasonable or not.
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with tensions high over the final stages of the trial, there was upset and disbelief when a black teenager was killed here at the brooklyn centre in minneapolis — just under ten miles from the courthouse. once again, the use of force was condemned and a familiar question was asked — would the police have acted the way they did if he had been white? city officials acknowledged the killing of daunte wright couldn't have happened at a worse time, and the community reaction was immediate. the mothers of other black men senselessly killed joined together to send a message to daunte wright's family. you are not in this alone. we are here, we are here for you. as these mothers reach out to you, i reach out to you, i embrace you, i empower you, and i hold you in my heart because i know what it is that you're going through. first of all, i want to say, whoever said that "time
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heals all wounds" did not lose a child. because we are never going to heal. this country has done something to us that will never be repaired. in the minutes before his arrest, george floyd was described as laughing with employees as he moved around the convenience store — functioning fine but visibly high, the store clerk told the jury. mr floyd's girlfriend, couretney ross, acknowledged that they shared a struggle with drugs. she testified that she'd taken him to hospital in march of 2020 to be treated for an overdose. it's a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. we both suffered from chronic pain. a full autopsy report indicated mr floyd had
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fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died. and traces of the pills were found in his car and the police car. the defence pounced on the presence of drugs as a critical part of their strategy — to introduce reasonable doubt over the manner of george floyd's death. eric nelson did as good a job with what had been given to him. and the devastating, i think, case that was put forward by the state was difficult to overcome. really, all he had to work with to instill that reasonable doubt was, is there anything, anything i can pull at that was the cause of death, other than derek chauvin kneeling on george floyd's neck and suffocating the life out of him? and those two things were medical and drugs. so he played that up as much as he possibly could. the defence called dr david fowler. he told the court it was his opinion that derek chauvin�*s knee did not impact the vital structures of george floyd's neck, and the cause of death
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should be undetermined. so, in my opinion, mr floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, i or cardiac arrhythmia due to his atherosclerotic and j hypertensive heart disease — you can write that down - multiple different ways — during his restraint - and subdural by the police, or restraint by the police. i and then, his significant contributory conditions i would be — since i've already put the heart disease - in part one, he would have the toxicology, i the fentanyl _ and methamphetamine. there is exposure to a vehicle exhaust — so potentially- carbon monoxide poisoning. the prosecution's expert testimony dismantled that argument. george floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die
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from a drug overdose. there was one moment in the video where i heard one of the officers saying, "i think he's passing out." that would've been an opportunity to quickly relieve him from that position of not getting enough oxygen, perhaps turn him into a recovery position, and allow him to start to expand his lungs again and bring in oxygen, and get rid of carbon dioxide. so, in addition to not putting him in that position in the first place, when there were signs that he was worsening, repositioning him i think very likely would've also saved his life. it was almost to the effect
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as if a surgeon had gone in and removed the lung — not quite, but along those lines. so there was virtually very little opportunity for him to be able to get any air to move into the left side of his chest. 0n cross—examination, the defence pressed the issue of pre—existing conditions contributing to mr floyd's death. but again, in terms - of what we have learned about mr floyd from his autopsy and his medical records, - is that we understand . that mr floyd had some heart disease, right? that is correct. in fact, i believe that he had, in his arteries, somewhere i between 75—90% closure of his ventricular - arteries, right? correct. and that's going to affect - blood flow in a person, right? it'll make the body work a little harder to get - the blood through the body. no, not really. it's not going to do that. 0k, how does that affect a person's respiratory? l the coronary artery? if the coronary artery is affected and if the coronary
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artery was contributing to shortness of breath, you would expect that he would be complaining of chest pain, and you would expect that he would be demonstrating a very rapid respiratory rate. we don't see either. chauvin chose not to testify in his own defence. i will invoke my fifth amendment privilege today. the jury reached a verdict faster than many expected, afterjust ten hours of deliberations. please be seated. verdict, count one. "we, the jury, in the above entitled manner as to count one, unintentional second degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty." guilty! cheering you can just hear the absolute joy and relief. this city is breathing a sigh of relief when the news comes out that derek chauvin was convicted on all three charges — crucially
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second degree murder. sobbing: i'mjust so happy. i can feel the emotions are overwhelming for you. so happy... i'm so happy. people saw, they see it, they see it now. you know, some of us have become numb to it. so when we see it, it'sjust another day. so when something like this happens, it kinda brings us back to reality that that stuff is not normal. it's not normal at all. that's something that we shouldn't be comfortable with, it's something that we shouldn't be numb to. i'm so happy! 0ur voices were heard! this was not a lost - cause, our voices were heard, and i'm happy! say his name! george floyd! george floyd's family thanked the jury and everyone that stood beside them. today, we are able to breathe again! i told you, we would getjustice. and still, we're going to fight for you too. we're going to fight
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for everybody. for many in law enforcement, though, this case represents one individual. they reject the notion that the outcome of the case is a referendum on policing. one of the concerns i have is the magnitude that this case has been brought up to have — that it's somehow going to be viewed as an indictment on our entire judicial system. the verdict that was rendered in this case is not a decision on whether officer chauvin was a racist or is a racist. it's not a decision on whether the minneapolis police department is in need of reform or abolishment. the decision of the jurors in this case was limited to answering the questions submitted to them by the judge, which was whether derek chauvin violated the law as to the three charges that were brought against him? the conviction of derek chauvin may or may not become
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a catalyst for real change. for george floyd's family, though, and others affected by his death, it'll bring a closure that has been denied to so many others. i think that everybody should remember, you know, that george floyd, first and foremost, is a person. i think that, when you view someone as just a hashtag or as a movement, you really take away their humanity. we're all george floyd potentially, so the outcome of this case is big — not just for african—americans or americans in general, but it's really big for the justice system and the world. hello.
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wales reached 21 degrees on friday. scotland had its highest temperature of the year so farat 20. and after a warm, sunny start to the weekend, it will turn a little cooler and cloudier as the weekend goes on, especially in eastern areas. it's still largely dry throughout with high pressure here, but the flow of air around that as the weekend goes on will become more of a pronounced easterly across the uk, with that cooler air starting to move in and more cloud, especially by sunday and especially in the east, as we'll see in a moment. another chilly morning to kick off the weekend, but not as cold as recent mornings, though still there will be a patchy, mainly rural frost around and temperatures head up in the morning sunshine quite quickly. 0nce any early mist and fog patches clear away from eastern england, and there will be a bit of rain for parts of scotland, especially the east and into north east england. but for most areas, it's a day of unbroken sunshine once again. shetland, though, turning cloudy with a chance of a little light rain. it will be a cooler day along north sea coasts with a breeze off the sea, but in western areas
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of the sunshine, every bit as warm as friday, 19, perhaps 20 degrees again. and there will be moderate to high pollen levels and moderate to high uv as well. now we are expecting more cloud to arrive as we go after dark on saturday night. just filtering in here from the east, particularly into parts of england and wales. there could be a few mist and fog patches around, too. although temperatures again are a little bit higher as we start sunday morning, still the odd touch of frost in the countryside can't be ruled out. and then on sunday, don't be surprised to have some cloud, particularly across parts of england and in fact cloud in scotland breaking to allow sunny spells. though parts of eastern england could stay rather cloudy with a chance of a light shower and an isolated heavy shower in highland scotland can't be ruled out. more of us noticing that easterly breeze quite gusty through the channel, channel islands and south west england as it's been for the past few days. and quite chilly around that north sea coast, cooler elsewhere but still up to 17 in western counties of northern ireland. into next week, and high pressure giving way to low pressure and that brings a chance anyway of a little
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rain moving southwards monday into tuesday. doesn't look like it's going to amount to very much, but starts a week which while likely it'll be cooler than average once again with a chance again for a few showers, but not enough to stop this being one of the driest aprils we've known.
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a very warm welcome to you. this is bbc news. i'm mark lobel. our top stories: india's healthcare system buckles as a record surge in covid cases puts pressure on hospital beds and life—saving supplies. we have a special report from the frontline. if oxyg e n if oxygen runs out, there is no leeway for many patients. there is no leeway. they will die. time is running out to save the crew of an indonesian submarine missing off the coast of bali since wednesday. from close ally to bitter critic: dominic cummings launches an explosive attack on borisjohnson, accusing the uk prime minister of lacking integrity. president macron says france will never yield to islamist terrorism after a man fatally stabs a woman police


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