MINNEAPOLIS — For nearly a year, the country’s understanding of George Floyd’s death has come mostly from a gruesome video of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. It has become, for many, a painful encapsulation of racism in policing.
But as the murder trial of the officer, Derek Chauvin, opened on Monday, his lawyer attempted to convince jurors that there was more to know about Mr. Floyd’s death than the stark video.
The case was about Mr. Floyd’s drug use, the lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, argued. It was about Mr. Floyd’s size, his resistance of police officers and his weakened heart, the lawyer said. It was about an increasingly agitated crowd that gathered at an intersection in South Minneapolis, which he said diverted Mr. Chauvin’s attention from Mr. Floyd, who was Black. This, Mr. Nelson asserted, was, in part, an overdose, not a police murder.
convicted of second-degree murder, the most serious charge that Mr. Chauvin is now facing.
for nine minutes and 29 seconds, Mr. Floyd had cried out that he could not breathe, at one point calling for his mother.
“They’re not screaming for their lives,” Mr. Blackwell said of someone experiencing an overdose. “They’re not calling on their mothers. They are not begging: ‘Please, please. I can’t breathe.’”
He continued: “The most important numbers you will hear in this trial are nine, two, nine. What happened in those nine minutes and 29 seconds when Mr. Derek Chauvin was applying this excess force to the body of Mr. George Floyd.”