Closing arguments begin in Derek Chauvin's murder trial

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:11 a.m. ET, April 20, 2021
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11:20 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecution: Chauvin "did what he did on purpose, and it killed George Floyd"

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher used his closing arguments to once again outline why ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's actions on May 25, 2020, were a "felony level of assault."  

"As you know, in the laws in this state, if you commit a certain level of assault, a felony level of assault, and the person dies as a result of your assault, you are guilty of murder. It's as simple as that," the attorney said. 

"And what the defendant did here was a straight-up felony assault, this was not policing. It was unnecessary, it was gratuitous, it was disproportionate. And he did it on purpose. No question. This was not an accident," Schleicher told the jury.

"He did not trip and fall, and find himself upon George Floyd's knee and neck. He did what he did on purpose, and it killed George Floyd," the prosecuting attorney said.

"That force, for nine minutes and 29 seconds — that killed George Floyd," he said.

The prosecution went on to say Chauvin "betrayed the badge" and "abandoned his values" and the training.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. He has pleaded not guilty.

11:14 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecution: Floyd told officers "thank you" when they initially pulled him out of the car

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19. Pool

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher played footage from Derek Chauvin's body camera and told the jury that as officers pulled George Floyd out of the car and put him on the ground, he said "thank you."

Schleicher told the jury that once Floyd was on the ground he did not resist.

"A reasonable officer in the defendants position at that time should have recognized and understood, he wasn't trying to escape. He wasn't trying to punch anyone, stab anyone. The problem was the back of the car. Just like George Floyd tried to explain over and over. The problem was the back of the car." 

Schleicher said that once the officers got Floyd out of the car, "it was over. He was on his knees. He was saying thank you." 

He added that when officers got Floyd out of the car, he was on his side, handcuffed and in the "prone recovery position."

Schleicher said that when officers flipped Floyd from his side onto his stomach, that is when excessive force began.

10:59 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecuting attorney: "George Floyd is not on trial here"

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher told the jury "George Floyd is not on trial here."

"We've heard some things about George Floyd, that he struggled with drug addiction, that he was being investigated for allegedly passing a fake 20-dollar bill, that there was never any evidence that he knew it was fake in the first place, but he is not on trial," he said during his closing arguments.

Schleicher said that Floyd never got a trial "when he was alive," then repeated again, "he is not on trial here." 

Earlier in his closing argument, Schleicher called Chauvin's actions a "straight-up felony assault."

10:52 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecution says policing is not on trial in this case

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19. Pool

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher told the jury during "this case is called the state of Minnesota versus Derek Chauvin. This case is not called the state of Minnesota versus the police."

He went on to call policing a "noble profession" and mentioned that several Minneapolis police officers testified at trial, including the Minneapolis police chief.

"You met several Minneapolis police officers during this trial. You met them. They took the stand. They testified and make no mistake, this is not a prosecution of the police. It is a prosecution of the defendant. And there is nothing worse, for good police, then a bad police," he said.

Schleicher said Chauvin is on trial "not on trial for who he was, he's on trial for what he did." 

The prosecution put up an image of Chauvin on Floyd's neck and Schleicher said, "That is what he did, on that day. Nine minutes and 29 seconds. That is what he did."

10:47 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

George Floyd "asked for help with his very last breath," prosecutor says

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher talked about George Floyd's last words during his closing argument.

"George Floyd's final words on May 25th, 2020 were, 'please, I can't breathe.' And he said those words to Mr. Officer. He said those words to the defendant. And he asked for help with his very last breath, but Mr. Officer did not help," Schleicher told the jury.

He continued: "The defendant did not help. He stayed on top of him, continued to push him down, to grind his knees, to twist his hand. His fingers. Into the handcuff that bound him."

Schleicher then talked about how Derek Chauvin's actions were not in line with the motto of the Minneapolis police.

"The motto of the Minneapolis Police Department is to protect with courage. And to serve with compassion. But George Floyd was not a threat to anyone. He was not trying to hurt anyone. He was not trying to do anything to anyone. Facing George Floyd that day, that did not require one ounce of courage. And none was shown on that day. All that was required all that was required as a little compassion. And none was shown on that day."

Schleicher called Chauvin's actions against Floyd an "assault" that lasted 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

"For 9 minutes and 29 seconds. He begged, George Floyd begged until he could speak no more, and the defendant continued. This assault. When he was unable to speak, the defendant continued. When he was unable to breathe the defendant continued. Beyond the point that he had a pulse. Beyond the point that he had a pulse, the defendant continued this assault. Nine minutes and 29 seconds."

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. He has pleaded not guilty.

1:10 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

What prosecutors must prove and what the jury will deliberate

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Following the closing arguments, the jury must deliberate whether or not the prosecution "proved beyond a reasonable doubt" that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is guilty of three charges.

Here's a look at what prosecutors must prove for each charge:

Second-degree unintentional murder

  • Prosecutors must prove Chauvin caused George Floyd's death, while committing an underlying felony.
  • There is no need to prove intent to kill, just intent to act.
  • If convicted, he could face up to 40 years in prison.

Third-degree murder

  • Prosecutors must prove Chauvin committed a reckless act that is "eminently dangerous" to others with "depraved mind."
  • If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

Second-degree Manslaughter

  • Prosecutors must prove Chauvin was "culpably negligent" and disregarded awareness of substantial risk of great bodily injury or death.
  • If, convicted he could face up to 10 years in prison.

10:40 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecution begins closing argument by talking about George Floyd and his family

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19. Pool

Closing arguments have begun at the trial of Derek Chauvin. The prosecution goes first.

Prosecuting attorney Steve Scleicher began closing arguments by talking about George Floyd and his family.

"His name was George Perry Floyd Jr. and he was born on Oct 14, 1973 in Fayetteville, North Carolina," he said.

Schleicher mentioned the special relationship he had with his mother. "The mom of the house, the mom of the neighborhood — and you heard about the special bond that she and George Floyd shared during his life," he said.

He then went into the details of Floyd's death.

"On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died face down on the pavement right on 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. Nine minutes and 29 seconds, nine minutes and 29 seconds. During this time, George Floyd struggled. Desperate to breathe, to make enough room in his chest, to breathe. But the force was too much. He was trapped. Trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath him – as unyielding as the men that held him down."
10:32 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecutors are starting to make their closing argument

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivers the state's closing arguments on April 19. Pool

Judge Peter Cahill just finished reading instructions to the jury, and now closing arguments have started in the Derek Chauvin trial.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher is delivering the state's closing argument.

Next, defense attorney Eric Nelson will deliver the defense's closing argument. Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell is expected to handle the rebuttal, according to John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

10:15 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

NOW: Judge reads jury instructions ahead of Derek Chauvin trial closing arguments

From CNN's Eric Levenson

Judge Peter Cahill reads instructions to the jurors on April 19 in Minneapolis.
Judge Peter Cahill reads instructions to the jurors on April 19 in Minneapolis. Pool

The court is in session, and closing arguments in former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin's criminal trial will begin soon.

Judge Peter Cahill is reading instructions to the jurors on the law.

Next, prosecutor Steve Schleicher will deliver the state's closing argument, and prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell is expected to handle the rebuttal, according to John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson will deliver the defense's closing argument.

What comes next: The judge will send the jury off to begin deliberations in the Hennepin County Government Center. The jury will remain sequestered for deliberations until a verdict is reached and will stay in a hotel at night.