Derek Chauvin trial: Updates and FAQs
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The jury now has the case in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, is underway at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The trial began on March 8 with jury selection. The state and the defense delivered opening arguments on March 29, followed by three weeks of testimony. The jury began deliberations at 4 p.m. on Monday, following closing arguments.
READ MORE: Who are the witnesses in the Derek Chauvin trial?
The trial is being broadcast live, gavel to gavel, on FOX 9 and streaming live at fox9.com/live.
How long will it take to reach a verdict?
Jurors will be fully sequestered for the entirety of deliberations. A scheduling order from judge Cahill shows deliberation will continue until 7:30 p.m. each night. Jurors will stay in hotel rooms overnight and have very limited contact with the outside world until they reach their decision.
While they are deliberating, jurors will get a chance to look over evidence presented in the trial such as videos and still photos, as well as their own notes. They need a unanimous decision on each charge, but they have the option to find Chauvin guilty of some charges and not guilty of others.
Before they began deliberating, the jurors were issued instructions from the court, including what they must consider in the case, some definitions of key terms, what counts Chauvin faces in the case, how to go about asking questions of the court and how to select a foreperson to lead the deliberations. Judge Cahill reminded the jurors that the three charges must be considered separately.
Who are the jurors?
The 12-person jury that will decide Chauvin’s fate consists of five men and seven women. Six of the jurors are white, four are Black and two identify as mixed or multiracial. Two of the jurors are in their 20s, three are in their 30s, three are in their 40s, three are in their 50s and one is in their 60s.
Fifteen jurors were seated during jury selection, but Judge Cahill dismissed the 15th juror before opening statements. The 14 remaining jurors heard the whole case, but Judge Cahill dismissed the two alternate jurors on Monday before giving the case to the jury.
GO DEEP: Who are the selected jurors?
The jurors were not sequestered during the trial, although Judge Cahill instructed them to avoid any media coverage of the case.
The jurors are only being referred to by a random, previously assigned number because Judge Cahill has ordered their identities to remain a secret for the duration of the trial. At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Cahill will decide when the jurors’ identities can be made public.
The prosecution and defense both delivered their closing arguments on Monday, taking up most of the day.
Each side went over their case. For the state, prosecutors called on the jury to find Derek Chauvin guilty of the three charges he faces and presented where they provided evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for each charge.
At the basis of their decision, the jury must find that Chauvin acted outside what a reasonable officer would do and those actions led to Floyd's death.
"[Chauvin’s] negligence includes his failure to act," Prosecutor Steve Schleicher told the jury. "In your custody means in your care. There is a duty to provide medical assistance. That duty includes not only calling the ambulance, it means that you have to use your knowledge, your training as a first responder, you’re required to perform CPR. It’s a requirement. He failed to do it. You’ve seen training records…he knew what to do, he just didn’t do it. He knew better, he didn’t do better."
Defense attorney Eric Nelson took nearly three hours to deliver his closing argument, with Judge Cahill interrupting him at one point so the jury could take a lunch break.
Nelson had a lot to cover, placing as much doubt into the case as he could. He talked about the crowd of bystanders, the conflicting medical testimony and the role Floyd’s drug use and heart condition may have played in his death.
"Officer Chauvin had no intent to purposely use unlawful force," Nelson argued. "These are officers doing jobs in a highly stressful situation, according to their training, according to the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department. It’s tragic…it’s tragic."
The jury has much to consider in their deliberations. Forty-five witnesses took the stand during the trial.
In his rebuttal, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jurors to consider a 46th witness—common sense—telling the jurors to believe their eyes and all the videos they have seen in court.
Chauvin does not testify in own defense
Chauvin chose not to testify in his own defense. Out of the hearing of the jury Thursday, Chauvin informed the court he was invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to self-incriminate and would not testify in the trial. The defense then rested their case.
On Wednesday, the defense called their own medical expert, retired forensic pathologist Dr. David Fowler. Fowler's testimony indicated he did not agree with the findings in the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s autopsy of Floyd.
Fowler concluded Floyd’s manner of death should be listed as undetermined rather than homicide because of all the factors at play, including possibly carbon monoxide from squad car Floyd was being held on the ground next to. Fowler made clear he does not believe carbon monoxide did not kill Floyd, but it was a contributing factor in his death along with heart disease, underlying health conditions and drug use.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell aggressively attacked Fowler’s findings on cross examination, including establishing the possibility that the Minneapolis squad right next to where Floyd was pinned might not have even been running at the point to generate chemical exhaust and thus the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Defense calls first witnesses
Defense attorney Eric Nelson began calling his first witnesses to the stand on Tuesday, April 13. One of the first witnesses to be called was Shawanda Hill, who was in the SUV with Floyd when officers approached, to the stand. She testified about Floyd's demeanor prior to the deadly arrest.
Jurors also got to watch never before seen body camera video from Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang, who responded to the officers' call for assistance at Cup Foods. He testified the crowd watching Floyd's deadly arrest was "very aggressive towards the officers" and that he was concerned for the officers' safety.
The afternoon session was spent questioning Barry Brodd, a paid use of force expert. Brodd told the jurors he concluded Chauvin was objectively reasonable in his interactions with Floyd during the deadly arrest.
George Floyd’s brother gives ‘spark of life’ testimony
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, gave what is called "spark of life" testimony, which lets the jury learn more about the victim in a case. Philonise testified about growing up with his brother in Houston, Texas, George’s love of sports and how he was a leader in their house.
Philonise also told the jury about George’s special bond with their mother, describing it as "one of a kind." He said Floyd took their mother’s 2018 death hard.
"It was just difficult because I don’t know who can take that, when you watch your mother, somebody who loves you and cherishes you and nourishes you your entire life and then they have to leave you," he said. "We all have to go through it but it’s difficult and George, he was just in pain the entire time."
Hennepin County ME, medical experts testify on Floyd’s cause of death
Prosecutors called a number of medical experts to the witness stand to testify about Floyd’s cause of death, including Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker. Baker performed the official autopsy on Floyd. His report listed Floyd’s cause of death as cardiopulmonary arrest due to law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression, with drugs and underlying health conditions listed as significant factors. He ruled Floyd’s death a homicide.
Throughout his testimony, Baker stood by his initial conclusion that Floyd’s death was a homicide and continued to reiterate that it was not drugs or Floyd’s underlying heart conditions that caused his death, it was heart and lung failure from the positioning of the officers on his neck and body.
Baker testified the officers’ restraint was "just more than Mr. Floyd could take" due to his underlying heart conditions.
Three other medical experts—Dr. Lindsey Thomas, Dr. Martin Tobin and Dr. Jonathan Rich—all concurred with Baker’s findings that Floyd died of a cardiopulmonary arrest from low levels of oxygen due to law enforcement’s restraint of him.
They all testified that Floyd was not exhibiting any signs or symptoms of a fentanyl overdose.
Thomas and Tobin both volunteered to testify; they were not paid by the state.
Minneapolis Police officials testify on training, use of force techniques
The prosecution called several more members of the Minneapolis Police Department to the stand on Tuesday, including Lt. Johnny Mercil, who wrote MPD’s use of force training curriculum. He testified that an officer’s use of force needs to be reasonable and proportional.
Mercil testified that using a knee on someone’s neck is not an MPD-trained neck restraint, but it "isn’t unauthorized" when using force. He confirmed, however, that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck would not be authorized after Floyd was handcuffed and under control.
Chief Arradondo says Chauvin violated policies, training
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand on Monday, April 5. He testified testified that Chauvin went against his training and violated several of the police department’s policies, including de-escalation and use of force policies, when he kneeled on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes.
"There’s an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds," Arradondo said. "But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when he was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy, it is not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or values."
Floyd family watching Chauvin trial
Only one member of the Floyd family is allowed in the courtroom at a time due to COVID-19 restrictions, so the family has been rotating who takes the seat each day.
The family says they are hurting with the emotion of witness testimony and the repeated videos and photographs of Floyd being pinned to the ground outside Cup Foods, taking his final breaths.
Rodney Floyd, one of George Floyd’s brothers, told pool reporters Tuesday that seeing and hearing his brother in the videos was "very hard."
"When someone dies you cherish their last words but my brother’s last words, oh, those words are stuck in my head," he said.
Key moments from first week of witness testimony
The first witness to be called in the trial was 911 dispatch operator Jena Scurry. Scurry is the one who saw Floyd’s arrest on a police camera and, for the first time in her career, called the police on the police.
Scurry testified that she was watching the incident unfold on the TV monitors in the dispatch center the night of May 25, 2020 and said she became concerned that "something wasn’t right" when she did not see any movement on the screens.
In her call to the on duty sergeant, David Pleoger, Scurry tells him, "You can call me a snitch if you want to," before explaining that the live video showed "all of them sat on this man," referring to Chauvin and the other officers that restrained Floyd.
Donald Williams, a trained mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed Floyd’s deadly arrest, testified that he called 911 because he believed he "witnessed a murder." He is the one who can be heard in videos of the incident telling officers to get off Floyd, that they were killing him.
Darnella Frazier, the young woman who took the widely shared Facebook video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd, got emotional as she testified on Tuesday.
Frazier, who was 17 at the time, described seeing Floyd on the ground with Chauvin kneeling on him. She said Floyd was "terrified, scared, begging for his life."
Frazier tearfully told the jury she stays up at night "apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting, not saving his life."
Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter, was on a walk in her neighborhood on May 25, 2020 when she came upon the scene at Cup Foods. In the video she took of the incident, she can be heard asking officers if they checked Floyd’s pulse.
Hansen testified that she 'desperately' wanted to help provide medical attention to George Floyd, but officers kept her at bay.
Charles McMillian, a bystander, got choked up as he watched the videos of Floyd’s deadly arrest played back in court on Wednesday. McMillian is heard in the videos telling Floyd, "You can’t win" with police. McMillian said by speaking to Floyd, he was trying to help make the situation easier.
McMillian’s testimony was also the first time any of Chauvin’s body camera video had been made public. The body camera footage showed an exchange between Chauvin and McMillian immediately after Floyd had been taken away by ambulance.
George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, testified on Thursday about her relationship with Floyd and the couple’s shared struggles with opioid addiction.
She said they both went through periods of using and sobriety over the three years of their relationship. She told the jury she believed he was using again in the weeks before his death.
Finally, on Friday, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Homicide Unit, took the stand. Zimmerman has been with the MPD since 1985 and is the person with the most seniority on the force.
Zimmerman testified that kneeling on someone’s neck would be considered deadly force because "if your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them." He added that once someone is handcuffed, their threat level goes "down all the way" and their safety and wellbeing becomes the officer’s responsibility.
Zimmerman called Chauvin’s use of deadly force against Floyd "totally unnecessary."
"Pulling him down on the ground, face down, and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time, it’s just uncalled for," he told the jury. "I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt."
Derek Chauvin charges
Chauvin is standing trial on charges of third-degree murder, second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. Former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All four officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death.
Thao, Kueng and Lane will be tried together on August 23.
How to watch the Chauvin trial
The Chauvin trial will be live streamed, gavel to gavel, at fox9.com/live and the FOX 9 News App. You can also find the FOX 9 stream on Tubi through connected TVs. When the trial itself begins March 29, FOX 9 will broadcast it live on FOX 9 for the duration, including a quick recap of the day when court adjourns, followed by the FOX 9 News at 5.
Scheduled length of Chauvin trial
The trial will begin with jury selection, which is scheduled for three weeks. During jury selection, until all the preliminary motions are heard by Judge Peter Cahill, court will start at 8 a.m. with a hearing on preliminary motions, before moving on to jury selection at 9 a.m. The trial proceedings that begin on Monday, March 29 are anticipated to take two to four weeks.
Chauvin trial daily schedule
Following jury selectoin, opening statements and the remainder of the trial will follow the schedule below:
- 9 a.m. Legal issues
- 9:15 a.m. Jury arrives
- 9:30 a.m. Trial session
- 10:40 a.m. Break
- 11 a.m. Trial session
- 12:30 p.m. Lunch break
- 1:30 p.m. Trial session
- 3 p.m. Break
- 3:20 p.m. Trial session
- 4:30 p.m. Adjourn for the day, or extended trial session
- 5 p.m. Adjourn for the day or break for evening session if jury sequestered
- 6 p.m. Trial session if jury sequestered
- 7:30 p.m. Adjourn for the day
*All times Central. There is no plan to hold trial on weekends.
Who is allowed in the courtroom
- Trial Judge Peter Cahill
- 1 judge's clerk
- 1 court reporter
- Derek Chauvin, the defendant
- The jury. The empaneled jury will consist of 12 jurors and 2 alternates.
- Up to 4 lawyers or staff for the prosecution, led by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank.
- Defense attorney Eric Nelson and up to 2 staff from his law firm
- 1 witness at a time in the courtroom
- 1 George Floyd family member
- 1 Derek Chauvin family member
- 2 members of pooled media - 1 print and 1 broadcast or digital media
- 1 broadcast technician
Courtroom 1856 was renovated specifically for the Derek Chauvin trial to maximize capacity and maintain COVID-19 social distancing standards. The courtroom is located on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center.
Judge Cahill has ordered certain behavior in the courtroom:
- Jurors, attorneys, witnesses and support staff must wear masks and keep six feet from other people.
- Masks can be removed when giving testimony, examining witnesses, giving opening statements or closing arguments. Attorneys must conduct all witness examinations and arguments from the lectern.
- Any sidebar conferences will be conducted over wireless headsets. Chauvin will be outfitted with a headset to listen to these conferences, which will be off-the-record.
- Jurors and potential jurors will be escorted to courtroom each day by deputies or security. No one can have contact with jurors except the judge, court personnel and deputies. Any attorney contact is limited to the jury selection process when court is in session.
- Potential jurors will only be referred to by a randomized number.
Barricades and barbed wire are in place around the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial will take place, and Minneapolis City Hall. Security measures will also be going up around other city infrastructure, such as the police precinct buildings.
"Operation Safety Net" is the name of the unified command for the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments as well as the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Metro Transit Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Gov. Tim Walz also activated the Minnesota National Guard to help with security.
Officials say their goal is to preserve the First Amendment right of people to peacefully protest while preventing large-scale violent disturbances during the trial.
Community groups and activists are planning to gather outside of the Hennepin County Government Center during the Chauvin trial.
Some activists have voiced frustrations over the number of barricades in the area, calling it a "hindrance" to the movement’s constitutional right to be heard.
The city plans to create contracts with a network of community groups to help with de-escalation and communication "during periods of heightened tension." The city council unanimously approved the plan, authorizing up to $1.2 million in funding.
Minneapolis' Office of Violence Prevention will be requesting applications for the program and hopes to have finalized contracts by the end of March.
The city scrapped a plan to pay local social media influencers to post city-approved messages to dispel rumors.
So far, the City of Minneapolis has closed only one street in downtown Minneapolis. South 6th Street, including the sidewalk, is closed between 3rd and 4th avenues next to the Hennepin County Government Center.
Metro Transit is not planning any disruptions to bus or light rail service to downtown Minneapolis, although there may be detours around the Hennepin County Government Center.
The parking ramp at the Government Center will be closed during the trial. Skyway access to the center will also be restricted.
38th and Chicago during the Chauvin trial
The intersection of E 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where Floyd died, will remain closed during the Chauvin trial. The area, also known as George Floyd Square has been closed to public traffic since his death, becoming a gathering site for community members and activists.
Plans are in the works to reopen 38th and Chicago to the public after the trial. The city sent a survey to residents and business owners in the area to choose between two traffic options for reopening the square.
Death of George Floyd
George Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 while being detained by Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. The intersection has remained closed to traffic since Floyd's death and has been dubbed George Floyd Square.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 17: People participate in a demonstration on August 17, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Community members came together for a rally to protest the city's potential forceful reopening 38th Street and Chicago Ave, an unofficial
A widely-shared video taken by a bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he repeatedly cried, "I can’t breathe."
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the firing of all four officers the following day. Chauvin was arrested and charged with Floyd’s death on May 29 and the three others were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting on June 3.
TIMELINE: George Floyd's death to Derek Chauvin's trial
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's report ruled the death of George Floyd a homicide. The updated report stated that George Floyd experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement.
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