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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12:45 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Defense: Chauvin starts with a "presumption of innocence"

Defense attorney Eric Nelson delivers his closing argument on April 19 in Minnesota.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson delivers his closing argument on April 19 in Minnesota. Pool

Defense attorney Eric Nelson is now delivering his closing argument. He began by reminding the jury that his client has a "presumption of innocence," and it is the job of the state to prove that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The defendant does not have to try to catch up, he starts at the presumption of innocence," Nelson said.

After Nelson's closing argument the prosecution will have a chance to deliver a rebuttal argument before jury deliberations begin.

12:39 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

NOW: Defense delivers closing argument in the trial of Derek Chauvin

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper in Minneapolis

The defense's closing argument is underway in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. 

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.

Attorney Eric Nelson is delivering the closing argument for the defense.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher spent 1 hour and 43 minutes during his remarks earlier Monday, arguing why Chauvin should be convicted.

After the defense's closing argument, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell will have the opportunity to deliver a rebuttal.

12:28 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecuting attorney wraps up closing argument asking jurors to "believe your own eyes"

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher wrapped up the state's closing argument by telling the jury to "believe your own eyes" and convict Derek Chauvin on all three counts against him.

He said Chauvin's actions were "a shocking abuse" that the jurors "saw with your own eyes." 

"And you can believe your own eyes. This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It is exactly that. You can believe your eyes," he said.

"This wasn't policing. This was murder," Schleicher said.

He concluded with the line: "The defendant was guilty of all three counts, all of them, and there was no excuse."

12:21 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecution: The crowd that gathered was "powerless" to help George Floyd

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 said that George Floyd "was surrounded by strangers" when he died.

He talked about the group of bystanders as he showed images of the people that gathered on the sidewalk in front of Cup Foods while Floyd was on the ground. "They were strangers, but you can't say they didn't care. You can't say that. These people were randomly chosen from the community, people from the community, randomly chosen by fate," he said. 

Schleicher said the group of bystanders that witnessed the incident on May 25, 2020, "were powerless, they were utterly powerless, because even they respected the badge."

He said that the group became "more and more desperate as they watched" Chauvin on top of Floyd. He said they witnessed "a shocking abuse of authority" that they could do nothing about.

"And there was nothing they could do about it. They saw this happening, they tried, they cried out at first, pointed out, hey, you need to get up off him... there was nothing they could do. All they could do, all they could do was watch and gather what they could. Gather their memories, gather their thoughts and impressions, gather those precious recordings. And they gathered those up, and they brought them here. They got up on the stand, and they testified, and they bore witness to what they saw," Schleicher said.

11:56 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecution: Chauvin acted with "indifference" towards George Floyd

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher told the jury that Chauvin's actions on May 25, 2020 showed his "indifference" toward George Floyd.

Before playing a clip from officer body camera footage from the scene, Schleicher asked the jury during his closing argument, "Do you want to know what indifference is, and sounds like?"

The footage shows Chauvin on top of Floyd while he pleads with the officer that he is in pain and can't breathe. Chauvin appears to respond with remarks likes, "Uh huh," "then stop talking, and said it takes "a heck of a lot of oxygen to say that."

Schleicher went on to ask while giving his closing argument, "Did the defendant ever listen? Or consider medical attention?" 

"This is not protection, this isn't courage, and it certainly is not, and was not compassion. It was the opposite," Schleicher said.

11:43 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecution: There were "multiple moments in time where things could have gone different"

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher reminded the jury about testimony from experts who gave their opinions on what Chauvin could've done instead of staying on top of Floyd for over 9 minutes.

"There were multiple moments of time, ladies and gentlemen, multiple moments in time where things could have gone different," Schleicher said. 

Among the things that Schleicher said the officers could've done to help Floyd — but didn't do — were rotate Floyd onto his side and perform CPR on him.

Schleicher said that Chauvin had a duty to render Floyd medical aid, according to police department policy.

"He had a policy, a policy he was supposed to follow. A duty to provide medical aid. You're not supposed to phone that in, you're supposed to use your training, and provide medical aid." 

He continued: "The defendant knew how to do it, he had the training. He knew better. He just didn't do better. George Floyd did not have to die that day, should not have died that day. But, for the fact, that the defendant decided not to get up, and not to let up. George Floyd died."

Schleicher said that Chauvin's actions "were a substantial factor in George Floyd's death." 

"These actions make no mistake, these actions were not policing. These actions were an assault," he said.
11:36 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecutor: Chauvin "knew better, he just didn't do better"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Pool
Pool

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher urged the jury to "set aside notion that it's impossible for a police officer to do something like this" during his closing argument.

He made the case that former officer Derek Chauvin is "not on trial for being a police officer," but on trial for what he did. "Nine minutes and 29 seconds, that is what he did," Schleicher noted.

"He didn't follow training, those hundreds of hours of training that he had. He did not follow the department's use of force rules. He did not perform CPR. He knew better, he just didn't do better," Schleicher said.

"Remember during opening statement, counsel said that the defendant followed the rules and followed his training. Did you hear evidence of that? Did you hear evidence of that from the stand? Or did you hear something quite different? The chief of police testified, he violated their use of force policy. He violated the deescalation policy. He violated the duty to render emergency aid. You heard the trainer... 'We don't train this. This is not who we are.' No. That representation was simply wrong. That's just a story. What the defendant did was not policing. What the defendant did was an assault," Schleicher argued.

Schleicher focused on Chauvin's body language. "ego," and "pride," while he was holding George Floyd down in the prone position and how his authority was being "challenged" by the bystanders that day.

"The defendant was not going to be told what to do. He was not going to let the bystanders tell him what to do. He was going to do what he wanted. How he wanted for as long as he wanted. And there was nothing — nothing they could do about it. Because he had the authority. The bystanders were powerless. They were powerless to do anything. The defendant, he chose pride over policing," Schleicher said.

4:48 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Go There: CNN reports from Minneapolis as closing arguments in the Chauvin trial begin

Testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial finished last week and closing arguments began today. Minneapolis is on edge as the city awaits the jury's verdict, which could come down this week. 

CNN correspondent Josh Campbell reports on the latest from Minneapolis. Watch:

11:27 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021

Prosecutor says state proved its case against Chauvin beyond a reasonable doubt

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher said during closing arguments that the state has proven its case against ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Proof beyond reasonable doubt, it is a high standard. The highest standard. A standard that the state has met here," Schleicher said.

Appearing to take a shot at the defense's arguments in the case, Schleicher went on to say that the state does not need to prove its case beyond an "unreasonable doubt."

"And the state does not need to prove its case beyond all doubt. It does not need to prove its case beyond what I will call an unreasonable doubt." 

He continued: "Unreasonable doubt is a doubt not based on common sense, but based on nonsense. You are not required to accept nonsense, you're not required to accept the notion that after the defendant kneeling on Mr. Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, in the dangerous prone position, handcuffed, restrained, pressing down on him, that after that, as he was riving in pain and suffering, that that is not even a use of force."