Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death

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

Updated 2304 GMT (0704 HKT) March 29, 2021
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10:24 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

George Floyd's family and attorneys are kneeling for 8 minutes 46 seconds outside the courthouse

CNN
CNN

Members of George Floyd's family, Rev. Al Sharpton and attorney Benjamin Crump are taking a knee outside the Minneapolis courthouse for eight minutes and 46 seconds before entering the building for the beginning of Derek Chauvin's trial.

"We are taking a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, and we want you to think of during that time, why Chauvin didn't, in that time get his knee up?," Sharpton said in a news conference this morning.

Sharpton marked each minute out loud as it passed.

In a news conference before the moment of silence, Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump described what he believes the trial means for the family and the country.

"Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all," Crump said.

"George Floyd galvanized cities all across America and all across the world when that video, that video of torture was viewed millions and millions of times. So, America, this is the moment, this is the moment to show the rest of the world that you are the standard bearer when it comes to liberty and justice for all. The whole world is watching," he continued. 

Note: CNN has previously reported that while the original criminal complaint in the case says Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the Hennepin County Attorney's office told CNN it was actually seven minutes and 46 seconds.

Watch the moment:

9:48 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Chauvin trial set to resume with preliminary issues and opening statements expected 

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper

Court proceedings are expected to resume at 10 a.m. ET in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin's trial for the death of George Floyd. 

Attorneys will discuss outstanding legal issues before the jury arrives.

Opening statements are expected to start when these preliminary matters are resolved.

Chauvin knelt on 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes on May 25, 2020 as Floyd told Chauvin and three other officers he couldn't breathe. Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

This is the 13th day of the trial by CNN’s count. 

10:00 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Rev. Al Sharpton: "The world witnessed a lynching by knee"

Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 29.
Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 29. CNN

Reverend Al Sharpton said "the world witnessed a lynching by knee" of George Floyd.

"We are here to see the case of a man that used his knee to lynch a man and then blame the man for the lynching," Sharpton said at a family press conference this morning.

Sharpton questioned how George Floyd was approached and arrested by the police on May 25, 2020 before he died.

"First of all, what was George Floyd being even approached for by police, that would warrant you using the force that you used? What was the reason that he was apprehended in the way he was apprehended?" 

He continued: "And why is the attempt being made by the defense to talk about what was the stimulants that may have been in George Floyd, what would be the stimulant that would make a man hold his knee on a man's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds?"

Watch:

 

9:42 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

George Floyd's nephew: "We came to get justice and nothing less"

Brandon Williams, nephew of George Floyd, speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis,
Brandon Williams, nephew of George Floyd, speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis, CNN

Brandon Williams, nephew of George Floyd, said he came to Minnesota today "for one thing and one thing only." 

"We came to get justice and nothing less. We came to get justice," Williams said, speaking at a family press conference ahead of opening statements in the Chauvin trial.

He said today is "a starting point."

"It's change long overdue in this country," Williams said.

Watch:

9:36 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Floyd family attorney: "Today starts a landmark trial"

Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 29.
Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 29. CNN

Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump said this morning, "Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all."

Speaking at a news conference in Minneapolis ahead of opening statements in the Derek Chauvin trial, Crump said, "this case is not hard when you watch the torture video of George Floyd."

"When people ask you, well, isn't this a tough case because they're going to try to say George Floyd had a trace amount of drugs in his system, you let them know that Ben Crump said that George Floyd was living, breathing, walking and talking just fine until the police put him face down, put him in handcuffs, and put a knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds," he continued.

Watch:

  

9:15 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

The trial will be broadcast live in its entirety

From CNN's Brian Stelter

From a media perspective, the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will be the biggest trial of the streaming TV age.

In a first for Minnesota, the trial will be broadcast live in its entirety, giving the public a rare peek into the most important case of the Black Lives Matter era.

Thanks to an eyewitness with a cell phone camera, "the knee Mr. Chauvin placed on Mr. Floyd's neck was filmed for all to see," the BBC's Joshua Nevett wrote. "Angered by what they saw, protesters worldwide said it was time to end racial injustice. Now cameras will let them see the justice system in real-time."

A Court TV crew will have three cameras in the courtroom. The feeds will be pooled and shared with all outlets.

"Every move Mr. Chauvin makes, down to the faintest facial expression, will be open to public scrutiny," Nevett wrote. "While not unusual in the US, that kind of transparency raises long-debated issues about the role of cameras in courtrooms..."

People will be watching on streaming-first services like Law & Crime as well as TV networks like HLN. Gavel-to-gavel coverage will be available all over the web and highlights will be available on demand. And Court TV will be back, having relaunched in 2019 with a mix of broadcast, cable and online distribution deals.

CNN.com will carry a live stream at all times. 

Read more about the media's coverage of the trial here.

9:04 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Here are the people at the center of the Chauvin trial

From CNN's Amir Vera

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began Monday, almost a year after video showed him kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nearly eight minutes. Floyd died after the incident, which occurred last May.

Here are some people at the center of Chauvin's trial:

  • George Floyd: Floyd grew up in Houston's Third Ward where he played basketball and football growing up. He played basketball at South Florida State College between 1993 and 1995. He moved to Minnesota for work and to drive trucks, according to friend and former NBA player Stephen Jackson. Floyd has two daughters, the youngest of whom is 6, according to Jackson.
  • Derek Chauvin: An 18-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), Chauvin was held at a maximum security prison for about five months until he posted bail in October 2020. Days after he knelt on Floyd's neck, it was found that Chauvin had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, according to the department.

The other three officers on the scene:

  • Thomas Lane: Lane, one of the officers who helped restrain Floyd, had been on the police force for four days when Floyd died, according to Lane's attorney Earl Gray. He was fired from MPD in the aftermath of Floyd's death.
  • J. Alexander Kueng: One of the officers who helped restrain Floyd, Kueng was working his third shift when Floyd died, Chauvin was his training officer, according to Kueng's attorney, Thomas Plunkett.
  • Tou Thao: Thao stood near the other officers as they restrained Floyd. He had been with MPD since 2012 before being fired in the aftermath of Floyd's death.

8:54 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Floyd family will kneel for 8 minutes 46 seconds outside the courthouse before trial begins

From CNN's Hollie Silverman and Sara Sidner 

Members of George Floyd's family, Rev. Al Sharpton and attorney Benjamin Crump will take a knee outside the courthouse for eight minutes and 46 seconds before entering the building for the beginning of Derek Chauvin's trial Monday, Rev. Sharpton said during a news conference Sunday night.

CNN has previously reported that while the original criminal complaint in the case says Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the Hennepin County Attorney's office told CNN it was actually seven minutes and 46 seconds.

Sharpton said they will do it "to show the world how long it took for Chauvin to have his knee on that neck."

He said that the family is preparing to hear Chauvin's defense team smear Floyd's name and try to discredit him during the trial.

"This family will go through a very painful and very tumultuous few weeks," Sharpton said. "It's not only bad enough that they had to lose their brother, their loved one but they now have to, in front of the world, see this over and over again"

Sharpton said he hopes prosecutors will hold Chauvin accountable to set precedent for future cases as so many similar cases never saw justice, including that of Rodney King, Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

"It's not just Chauvin on trial. The United States’ ability to deal with police accountability is on trial. Many cases didn't even get to court," Sharpton explained. "We have at least gotten this to court. Now we want the court to show, is America prepared to hold police accountable and make them pay when they are wrong?"

"If we can't see justice in this case, what will it take?" He added "We've seen killings since George Floyd which is why we will keep on fighting."

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, thanked the protesters who have stood up for justice for his brother.

"I have faith that he will get convicted," Philonise Floyd said during the press conference, adding that the video seen around the world "is the proof."

11:10 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

If convicted, Chauvin could face decades in prison

Defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, listen during jury selection in the trial of Chauvin on March 23 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, listen during jury selection in the trial of Chauvin on March 23 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Court TV/Pool/AP

The murder trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin kicks off today.

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the May 2020 death of George Floyd. He has also pleaded not guilty to third-degree murder, a charge reinstated in the case on March 11

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd's neck while Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe."

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.

There were three other former officers on the scene at the time of Floyd's death. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

They are expected to stand trial this summer. All four ex-officers are out on bail.