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‘Murder’ or ‘authorized use of force?’ Quotes from Chauvin trial closing arguments

The prosecution and defense made closing arguments on Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May.

Here are select quotes from summations to the jury by prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher of the Minnesota attorney general’s office, defense attorney Eric Nelson and prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell, who rebutted Nelson’s presentation.

PROSECUTOR STEVE SCHLEICHER

“Facing George Floyd that day, that did not require one ounce of courage, and none was shown on that day, no courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”

“Random members of the community, all converged by fate at one single moment in time to witness something, to witness nine minutes and 29 seconds of shocking abuse of authority, to watch a man die.”

“Only you have the power to convict the defendant of these crimes, and in so doing declare that this use of force was unreasonable. It was excessive. It was grossly disproportionate.”

“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It is exactly that. You can believe your eyes.

“This wasn’t policing. This was murder. The defendant is guilty of all three counts, all of them. And there’s no excuse.”

DEFENSE ATTORNEY ERIC NELSON

“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 level.”

“Throughout the course of this trial, the state has focused your attention on nine minutes and 29 seconds. The proper analysis is to take those nine minutes and 29 seconds, and put it into the context of the totality of the circumstances that a reasonable police officer would know.”

“Remember, we don’t look at this incident from the perspective of a bystander. We do not look at this incident from a perspective of the people who are upset by it. We look at it from the perspective of a reasonable police officer.”

“In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force, as unattractive as it may be. And this is reasonable doubt.”

“We have to look at the cause of death to determine, did Mr. Floyd die exclusively of asphyxia or were there other contributing factors that were not the natural result of Mr. Chauvin’s acts?

PROSECUTOR JERRY BLACKWELL, IN REBUTTAL

“Why is it necessary to continue applying deadly restraints to a man who is defenseless, who is handcuffed, who is not resisting, who is not breathing, who doesn’t have a pulse, and to go on and do that for another three-plus minutes before the ambulance shows up, and then they continue doing it? How is that a reasonable exercise in the use of force?” (Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in Minneapolis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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