By Jorge Fitz-Gibbon
The highly anticipated murder trial of ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd gets underway Monday amid heavy security inside a barricaded Minnesota courthouse.
Opening arguments are due to get underway at 10 a.m. Eastern Time at the Hennepin County Courthouse, where Chauvin, 45, faces third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25 death at a Minneapolis intersection.
Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, the lead prosecutor on the case, is expected to focus heavily on the viral video of Floyd’s death — and may air it as soon as his opening statements at the trial Monday.
“If you’re a prosecutor you want to start off strong,” former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer, managing director of Berkeley Research Group in Chicago. “You want to frame the argument — and nothing frames the argument in this case as much as that video.”
Defense attorney Eric Nelson is expected to argue that Chauvin, who is seen on the footage pressing his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, did not cause his death.
Rather, Nelson has argued in court papers that Floyd died as a result of drugs he ingested and a pre-existing heart condition, not just the knee to his neck.
A coroner’s autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system but ruled his death a homicide — as did an independent autopsy.
Floyd’s family contends that Chauvin is solely responsible for his death.
“What killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force,” Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said outside the courthouse Monday.
Jury selection wrapped up last week, with 12 jurors and three alternates selected — one of them due to be released before the start of the trial.
The final panel of 12 is made up of two white me; four white women; three black men; one black woman; and two women who identify as multi-racial.
The trial is expected to take about four weeks.
With Post wires
Photo – Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images