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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9:18 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Jury concludes deliberations for the day

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper

The jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin have concluded deliberating for the day, according to the Hennepin County Court.

Deliberations started at 4 p.m. CT and concluded at 8 p.m. CT.

Jurors are being sequestered during deliberations and will spend tonight in a hotel.  

The court did not say when the panel is expected to resume deliberating Tuesday morning.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death on May 25, 2020. He has pleaded not guilty.

8:34 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

State and local lawmakers in Minnesota call for calm ahead of Chauvin verdict

From CNN’s Keith Allen

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Pool

With the fate of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin now in the hands of a jury, Minnesota’s governor, and the state’s two most prominent mayors met with reporters Monday afternoon and pleaded for calm regardless of the trial’s outcome.

“His fate will be decided by the jury, we’ll decide our fate in this state,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said shortly after jury deliberations began in Chauvin’s murder trial.

“We must acknowledge two truths: We cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos, we must protect life and property,” the governor continued. “We also must understand very clearly, if we don't listen to those communities in pain, and those people on the streets, many of whom were arrested for speaking a fundamental truth, that we must change, or we will be right back here again.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey echoed Walz’s sentiments and said they must work to make changes in their community regardless of the jury’s decision in the closely watched trial.

“There's been pain and anguish, anger and frustration that is undoubtedly acutely felt by our Black and Brown communities,” Frey said. “Regardless of the outcome of this trial, regardless of the decision made by the jury, there is one true reality, which is that George Floyd was killed at the hands of police.”

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter cautioned that another descent into chaos similar to what so many parts of the region and country experienced following Floyd’s death last spring would only make matters worse for the Black community.

“Whatever the jury decides, we know that in this age of insurrection and extremism that we must be ready for the possibility of those who would exploit this moment and drown out the powerful voices of constructive protests across our nation with violence and destruction,” Carter said.

“Last spring, on top of the trauma of George Floyd's killing, we endured widespread devastation of the very neighborhoods he loved. But rioting won't solve this problem, and looting won't breathe life back into the bodies of our lost loved ones, and we cannot cure harm by inflicting harm on others,” the St. Paul mayor added.

The governor said that while he hasn’t personally spoken with President Biden during the tense weeks of the Chauvin trial and protests over Daunte Wright’s death, there have been productive talks with White House officials and added that the President delivering remarks on race potentially could have a positive effect on a nation in turmoil.

“The deep, painful, hard, uncomfortable conversation around race is out there," Walz said. “We can't careen from crisis to crisis. So, I would hope that the President would use the authority of the White House and the compassion we've seen in President Biden to address us all, and to ask for calm.”

Walz said that as of Monday afternoon, there are no statewide or regional curfews in effect, both mayors said they also have not called for curfews in their respective cities.

8:04 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Here's a breakdown of the charges against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd

From CNN's Eric Levenson


What was going through Derek Chauvin's mind when he kneeled on a handcuffed, prone George Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds last May?

That key question is at the heart of the three charges against the former Minneapolis Police officer and will be top of mind for jurors when their deliberations begin. To render a verdict, they'll also have to interpret Minneapolis Police policies, Floyd's cause of death, and the specific language of the law.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The second-degree unintentional murder charge alleges Chauvin caused Floyd's death "without intent" while committing or attempting to commit felony third-degree assault. In turn, third-degree assault is defined as the intentional infliction of substantial bodily harm.

The third-degree murder charge alleges Chauvin caused Floyd's death by "perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life."

The second-degree manslaughter charge alleges Chauvin caused Floyd's death by "culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm."

Each of the three charges requires prosecutors to prove that Chauvin's actions were not objectively reasonable and that they were a substantial cause of Floyd's death. But the charges differ primarily in how they interpret his intent and mindset during his restraint of Floyd.

Some of the terms in these charges have specific definitions. Others will be left up to the jury to interpret.

As in any criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proof and must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Any verdict the jury reaches must be unanimous.

The charges are to be considered separate, so he can be convicted of all, some or none of them. If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.

The actual sentences would likely be much lower, though, because Chauvin has no prior convictions. Minnesota's sentencing guidelines recommend about 12.5 years in prison for each murder charge and about four years for the manslaughter charge. The judge would ultimately decide the exact length and whether those would be served at the same time or back-to-back.

Read more about the charges against Chauvin here.

7:27 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Army approves 250 members of DC National Guard ahead of Chauvin verdict

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

The Army approved the call up of 250 members of the DC National Guard ahead of a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin as the city braces for potential protests and unrest in the wake of the announcement, the DC National Guard said in a statement.

Acting Secretary of the Army John Whitley was expected to meet with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday ahead of the approval, an administration official told CNN.

The National Guard members will support the DC Metropolitan Police Department with traffic management and safety at downtown public transportation stations, as well establishing a quick reaction force in the event of larger protests.

Bowser made the initial request on April 8 as a “precautionary” measure, said DC Homeland Security Director Chris Rodriguez. The DC National Guard is approved to continue to support law enforcement until May 9, the statement said.

6:30 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Alternate jurors dismissed in the Chauvin trial

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper


Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill has dismissed the two alternate jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.

Fourteen jurors heard evidence in the case for nearly three weeks, but only 12 jurors are needed to decide the case. 

The last two jurors selected, number 96, a white woman in her 50s and number 118, a white woman in her 20s, were excused by the court.  

Of the remaining jurors, two are in their 20s, three each are in their 30s, 40s and 50s and one juror is in her 60s. Six are white, four are black and two are multiracial, according to information released by the court.  

Cahill mentioned in open court Monday that he would speak to the alternate jurors in his chambers before sending them home. Court spokesperson Spenser Bickett confirmed to CNN Monday afternoon that Cahill did dismiss the two alternates after speaking with them in chambers.

6:01 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

What we know about the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

The jury in Derek Chauvin's trial heard from 45 witnesses during the trial and were shown bystander and police footage of George Floyd's final moments. 

Prosecutors called 38 witnesses to testify, including police use-of-force experts who criticized Chauvin and medical experts who explained how Floyd died. The defense called seven witnesses of its own — but not Chauvin himself, as he invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

The prosecution and defense presented closing arguments today, and now the jury has begun deliberations. They will remain sequestered for deliberations and will stay in a hotel at night.

While the jurors are unnamed and not seen on camera, we do know basic details about them.

Here's what we know about the jury:

  • Five men and nine women were chosen to serve on the jury during the trial in Minneapolis. 
  • Of the 14 jurors, eight are White, four are Black and two are mixed race, according to how the court says the jurors identified themselves.
  • The jury selection process began March 9 at the Hennepin County Government Center and wrapped up exactly two weeks later. 
  • The panel is made up of 12 jurors and two alternates, Judge Peter Cahill said.
  • The jurors all come from Hennepin County, which is demographically about 74% White and 14% Black, according to census data.
  • The prospective jurors previously completed a 16-page questionnaire that asked for their personal thoughts on Black Lives Matter, policing and other topics.
  • In court, each person was sworn in and then questioned one-by-one in a process known as voir dire. The juror's name, address and other information are kept anonymous.
  • Eric Nelson questioned the prospective jurors for the defense, while Steve Schleicher questioned them for the prosecution.

If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. The charges are to be considered separate, so Chauvin could be convicted of all, some or none of them.

Read more about about the jury here.

5:40 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Illinois governor activates National Guard ahead of verdict

From CNN’s Keith Allen and Brad Parks

With a verdict expected in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, Chicago has requested that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker activate personnel from the Illinois National Guard, according to a news release from his office Monday afternoon. 

In anticipation of potential protests, 125 guard members will be activated to support the Chicago Police Department and will assist with managing street closures “and supporting First Amendment Rights,” the release said.

“At the request of Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot, I am activating members of the Illinois National Guard to support the city in keeping our communities safe,” Pritzker said in the statement. “It is critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice that holds back too many of our communities continue to be able to do so. Members of the Guard and the Illinois State Police will support the City of Chicago’s efforts to protect the rights of peaceful protestors and keep our families safe.”

The guard members will be deployed and pre-positioned beginning Tuesday, according to Pritzker’s office. 

“Our greatest priority at all times is ensuring the safety and security of the public,” Lightfoot said. “While there is no actionable intelligence at this time, we want to be fully prepared out of an abundance of caution."

Illinois State Police will also support the Chicago Police Department with additional state troopers, according to the governor's statement.

5:37 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Jury will have to rely on recollection and notes during deliberation

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Judge Peter Cahill advised the jurors that they will have to rely on their own recollection of the trial with the aid of notes that they were allowed to take, but that no transcript of the trial "exists."

“I cannot give you a trial transcript. No such transcript exists. We count on the jury to rely on its collective memory. You have been allowed to take notes during the trial and you may take those notes with you into the jury room. You should not consider those notes binding or conclusive. Whether they are your notes or those of another juror. The notes should be used as an aid to your memory and not as substitute for it. It is your recollection of the evidence that should control," Cahill instructed.

This is common practice during trials and not unique to this case.

7:16 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Judge says Rep. Maxine Waters' comments could give grounds for appeal

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper and Ryan Nobles

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill denied a defense motion for a mistrial today over recent publicity in the case, including TV shows and comments by California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters. 

“You can’t avoid it. It is so pervasive. I just don’t know how this jury can really be said to be that they are free from taint,” defense attorney Eric Nelson told the judge.

Nelson noted that the trial has not only been in the news, but recently included in two fictional TV shows and what he described as “threats” against the sanctity of the jury process by Waters over the weekend.  

Waters was in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Saturday where protests have continued since the death of Daunte Wright earlier this month.  

"We're looking for a guilty verdict and we're looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd. If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice," Waters said. "We got to stay on the street. And we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business," she added.

With the start of deliberations, the jury is now sequestered, however, Nelson told the court he believed they should have been since the start of the trial.  

In court, Cahill noted that the Waters comments over the weekend may have created a potential for an appeal, if the defense loses this trial.  

“I will give you that Congresswoman Waters, something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill said.

The judge has repeatedly condemned past comments about the trial by politicians.  

“I’m aware of the media reports, and I’m aware Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction,” Cahill said. “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful of the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.”

The state said that the court has instructed the jury to avoid any outside influences, prosecutor Steve Schleicher noted, and the law presumes they are following it.

While leaving the House floor today, Waters said in response to a question about the trial,  “The judge says my words don’t matter.” 

Waters declined any further comment about the reaction to her remarks.  

This post has been updated with California Rep. Maxine Waters' remarks.