Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death

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

Updated 7:04 PM ET, Mon March 29, 2021
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11:49 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Prosecutor: Chauvin "betrayed" his oath as a police officer to never employ unnecessary force

Pool
Pool

Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell began his opening argument at former officer Derek Chauvin's trial by displaying the Minneapolis Police Department badge for the jury

"What it means to be a public servant and have the honor of wearing this badge. It's a small badge that carries with it a large responsibility and large accountability to the public. What does it stand for? It represents the very motto of the Minneapolis Police Department. To protect with courage, to serve with compassion, but it also represents the essence of the Minneapolis police department approach to the use of force against its citizens when appropriate." 

Blackwell told the jury that during this trial, they will learn about the oath that Minneapolis officers take. "They take an oath that, 'I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately and as you will learn, as it applies to this case, never employing unnecessary force or violence,'" he said. 

"You will learn that on May 25 of 2020, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge," he said.

Blackwell said that Chauvin "used excessive and unreasonable force" against Floyd.

"That he put his knees upon his neck and his back. Grinding and crushing him until the very breath — no, ladies and gentlemen — until the very life was squeezed out of him."

Watch:

10:49 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

Judge outlines key things jurors should not do during the trial 

Pool
Pool

Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill outlined some rules the jury should follow throughout the extent of the trial. 

14 jurors, including two alternates, will hear the case, but Cahill wanted to select 15 in case any jurors were excused before the start of opening statements today.  

Cahill noted that although the trial is being broadcast live, the jurors will never appear on video.

Here's a list of key things jurors should not do during the trial, according to Cahill:

  • "You're not investigators. You're not to go out and do any looking. You're not to ask people about this matter."
  • "You're not to use the internet to look for information about the case or about the law. You should avoid all news if possible. But at the very least, you should avoid media coverage of this case." The judge noted they should avoid news coverage in newspapers, radio, television, social media or any other media.
  • "Remember, you must not talk to anyone who is involved in the case. The attorneys, the witnesses, or spectators."
  • "When you go home during the trial, family and friends will be curious as to what you're doing. You need to tell them you're sitting as a juror in a criminal case and that's all you should tell them."
  • "I have to be realistic, and tell you that you can tell your immediate family in your household what you are doing. Because they will probably have figured it out by now. But in any case, feel free to share, but with no one else."
  • "Please refrain from Facebook, and Twitter. You may access such absent tools but please do not publish any information."
  • "Please disable any news feeds that may show up on social media accounts that may appear on this case."

10:39 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

NOW: Opening statements are underway

From CNN’s Aaron Cooper

Pool
Pool

Opening statements have begun in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.  

Chauvin knelt on 46-year-old George Floyd’s neck on May 25 as Floyd told Chauvin and three other officers he couldn't breathe.

Judge Peter Cahill just heard a preliminary motion about what lawyers can say about George Floyd’s state of mind during the arrest. He also excused the 15th and final juror selected.  

Fourteen jurors, including two alternates, will hear the case, but Cahill wanted to select 15 in case any jurors are excused before the start of opening statements today.  

Juror 15 was a White man in his 20s.  

Of the remaining jurors, eight are white, four are Black and two are mixed race, according to information released by the court. Chauvin is White, and Floyd was Black so the makeup of the jury in predominantly White Minneapolis is being closely watched.   

Three jurors are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, four are in their 50s and one juror is in her 60s.

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.