MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's note: Some of the images depicted in the video and testimony are graphic.
Monday, March 29
- Prosecution and defense delivered opening statements
- First witness: 911 dispatcher who called officers to Cup Foods, saw video of Floyd being detained
- Second witness: Shift lead at 38th and Chicago Speedway, witnessed Floyd's arrest
- Third witness: Professional fighter with experience in security, can be heard on bystander video telling officers to check Floyd's pulse
- George Floyd family, civil rights leaders took a knee outside courthouse
After months of preparation, the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began in earnest Monday, first with opening statements and then the first witnesses.
Chauvin faces three charges: second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell gave an opening statement describing those charges and how the state plans to prove them. His statement lasted about an hour and included bystander video of George Floyd under Chauvin's knee. He said "nine two nine" are the most important numbers in the trial, referring to the nine minutes and 29 seconds Chauvin knelt on Floyd.
"You can believe your eyes that it's a homicide, that it's murder," he said.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson delivered his opening statement after Blackwell, taking just under a half hour. He told the jurors that Floyd ingested drugs when he was detained by police. He focused in on preexisting medical conditions, and told the jury that Floyd died due to several factors including hypertension, coronary disease and drug intake.
"When you hear the actual evidence, and when you apply the law, reason and common sense, there will be only one just verdict," Nelson said.
Following opening statements, the prosecution called its first witness: The 911 dispatcher who sent officers to Cup Foods and then reported their use of force to a sergeant.
The next two witnesses were called in the afternoon: A shift lead at the Speedway on 38th and Chicago, and another bystander who has a background in security and can be heard on video telling officers to check Floyd's pulse.
The state will finish questioning that witness on Tuesday morning, and the defense will have an opportunity to cross-examine afterward.
Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the jury for the day after pausing the testimony of the third witness.
The state has not finished questioning Donald Williams II, a mixed martial arts fighter who is heard on bystander video telling the officers to check George Floyd's pulse.
Cahill said there was a "major technical glitch" in which the feed going to the family members has gone down.
"We are going to shut it down for today, we're going to let you go," Cahill said.
The judge said Williams will come back to resume his testimony at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
After letting the jury go, the judge and the prosecution and defense went "into the chambers" to have a private discussion.
Judge Peter Cahill asked the jury to leave the room and spoke to Donald Williams II, telling him that his testimony is going beyond what the parties agreed to in pretrial hearings. He said comments like the one about Chauvin making the "kill" choke is too far.
Cahill asked Williams to stick to what he observed.
"What inference or what opinions you're drawing, you need to wait for Mr. Frank to ask you an opinion," Cahill said. "You've got to be careful not to volunteer things that have not been asked."
Donald Wynn Williams II was the third witness called by the state. He said he is a father, a professional fighter and an entrepreneur. He said he has worked in security at various clubs.
Williams said he wrestled in high school and college, and took up mixed martial arts around 2009. He told prosecutor Matthew Frank that some of the people he trains alongside are Minneapolis police officers.
He told Frank that he's been trained on chokeholds. "Air choke is more like choking someone, they still have air to breathe," he said. "Then you also have a choke where it's a blood choke, where it specifically attacks the side of the neck and it specifically cuts off the circulation."
Williams said sometimes a person might not know they are in a blood choke until they're unconscious.
Williams went to Cup Foods the night of May 25, 2020. He told Frank that he didn't go into the store because "the energy was off." He said he heard voices and someone calling for their mother. He walked up to the scene where officers were detaining Floyd on the ground, and at that point he said there were about three people there.
He said he heard people "vocalizing their concerns to the officer" and Floyd "basically pleading for his life."
Frank asked Williams to describe Floyd's condition as time progressed.
"When I first arrived on the scene Mr. Floyd was vocalizing his sorry-ness and his pain," he said. As Chauvin's knee was on his neck longer, Williams said, "You seen his eyes slowly pale out."
He described seeing Floyd's breathing getting heavy, and seeing blood come from his nose eventually.
"He barely could move while he was trying to get air," Williams said.
He was the most vocal person at the scene for a while, Williams said, until a first responder arrived on scene. "Her expertise was like, 'Look he's fading away, you need to check his pulse.' She's asking him multiple times, I'm asking him multiple times, no one checked his pulse."
Williams said former officer Tou Thao said to him, "This is what drugs do to you."
Because of his experience with mixed martial arts, Williams told the prosecutor that he could observe what Chauvin was doing. The position of the knee on the neck, the movements of the knee, and the position of Floyd all gave him information, Williams said.
"I felt the officer on top was shimmying to actually get the final choke in while he was on top, to get the kill choke in," Williams said.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson objected to that statement, and the judge asked the jury to disregard it.
Prosecutor Frank asked Williams if it looked to him like a blood choke. Williams said it did, and he believed Chauvin responded to his comments about it.
"When I said it was a blood choke, it's the only time he looked up," Williams said.
Williams said the purpose of a "shimmy" is to get the choke hold tighter.
Frank played part of the Facebook bystander video of the scene, and Williams pointed out the point where he said Chauvin was making the "shimmy" movement.
"All the pressure is on his neck," Williams said. "He did it again," he said as he continued to watch the video.
"Every time his shoulder's moving he's pushing that pressure down on his neck from the shoulders from the knees all the way to his ankle," he said. Williams said that when Chauvin's ankle is up, that means his knee is pushing down.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher had a chance to redirect questioning after Nelson cross-examined Oyler. He only spoke with her for another moment, clarifying at what point the crowd gathered.
After an afternoon break, Derek Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson began cross-examining Alisha Oyler.
The second witness called by the state, Oyler was a shift lead at the Speedway on 38th and Chicago and filmed cell phone video of George Floyd's arrest.
Nelson asked Oyler if she remembered telling police that she saw a female officer on scene. She said she could not remember.
"You sort of zoomed in so that you could get a closer camera view, right?" Nelson asked her. "From where you were standing, ultimately when you were outside, you had the opportunity to make observations about what the officers were doing with Mr. Floyd?"
Nelson confirmed with Oyler that people were watching from many different locations, and each had a different vantage point of the scene.
Nelson pointed out that the crowd of bystanders kept growing, and "becoming more and more vocal." Oyler said, "I think so." He asked if she would agree that people were getting angry, and she agreed.
The state called its second witness Monday afternoon. Alisha Oyler worked as a shift lead at the Speedway on 38th and Chicago, the intersection where George Floyd died.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher questioned Oyler first. She said she was working the night of May 25, 2020.
She said she saw police "messing with someone" that night. "I don't really know how to explain it, just like, disturbing somebody before they found out who it was," she said. She later found out it was George Floyd, she told Schleicher.
She said she saw Floyd in handcuffs, and saw officers putting him in the squad car. Oyler told Schleicher she then began recording with her cell phone. She provided police with seven recordings after the fact. Two were taken while inside the Speedway and the rest were outside, she said.
Schleicher played those videos for Oyler and the jury, interspersed with the surveillance video of the scene to help establish where they fell in the timeline.
"Why did you continue to record what you were seeing here?" the prosecutor asked Oyler.
"I always see the police, they're always messing with people," she said. "And it's wrong and it's not right."
Oyler said she was too far away to hear the exchanges between the police officers and the crowd of bystanders.
"I think they were, like, yelling at each other," she said.
She told Schleicher she remembered the ambulance arriving. She kept filming. Oyler said she never personally saw the officers get off of Floyd, because at this point she was standing outside and was trying not to get hit by cars coming into the gas station.
The final cell phone video was taken as Floyd was carried off the ground and into the ambulance.
Schleicher asked her what she saw after she turned the camera off.
"There was just a bunch of people yelling and fighting and I didn't really understand why," she said. "But now obviously, we know why."
Lee Hutton, an attorney who is offering commentary on the trial for KARE 11, said he thinks the state is laying a foundation by calling Oyler as a witness. This allowed them to show her cell phone videos to the jury. Hutton said as of now, her testimony doesn't necessarily hurt the prosecution or help the defense.
Another trial expert, attorney Tom Heffelfinger, said he believed Oyler did more harm than good for the prosecution's case.
"I might have given serious thought to not calling her at all," he said. Heffelfinger said the way Oyler talked about police showed bias, "which I think hurts the prosecution, especially this early in the case."
Prosecutor Matthew Frank had another opportunity to examine Jena Scurry on redirect, after the defense cross-examined her.
Scurry was the 911 dispatcher who sent officers to Cup Foods and eventually called a sergeant to report their use of force against Floyd.
Frank pulled up the call logs from the 911 calls and dispatches that night. He asked her about a comment she made in that log, asking why the officers needed additional help from the fire department. She said the response she got was that EMS wanted the fire department there.
"Have you changed your mind about the reasons why you called (the sergeant) when you did?" Frank asked her. She said no.
She said the "base," which is the precinct desk, can move the cameras shown by the six TV screens at work. A supervisor can control them, but she cannot.
"It's a rare incident for somebody to put an incident up on the screen like that?" Frank asked. "Correct," she said.
Derek Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, began to cross-examine Jena Scurry after the lunch break Monday.
Scurry is a 911 dispatcher who sent officers to Cup Foods to respond to the report of a counterfeit bill. She then called a supervisor to report their use of force. She told prosecutors earlier Monday that she did that because "My instincts were telling me that something was wrong."
Nelson began by asking Scurry about what she does for her job. He asked her to confirm that her role is mostly "listening," and she agreed.
She said it is "very rare" that she actually sees an incident that she's dispatched on the six TV screens at work. She told Nelson it has probably happened three or four times.
Scurry told Nelson that she called squad 330 because squad 320 was busy on another call initially. Then squad 320 responded and said they could take the call after all. Squad 330 held Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao, and squad 320 was Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng.
At some point after 320 arrived, Scurry said she called backup because she heard something loud in the background. A park police squad responded.
Then the officers themselves called for more backup, Nelson said as he went through the transcript.
Nelson pointed out that in Scurry's call to the sergeant, she said "Oh wait, they're all gone," meaning at that point Floyd had been picked up by first responders. He also asked her about a comment she made to prosecutors on Monday, that she thought the camera had frozen because the officers were in the same position for so long.
"You, not being a Minneapolis police officer, are not familiar with the use of force requirements, correct?" Nelson said.
"Correct," she said.
Nelson pointed out that when Scurry called the sergeant to let him know about the force being used, she did not know for sure whether they had reported that force yet. She agreed with that.
Nelson asked Scurry about her testimony that she had seen the squad car rocking back and forth on video when officers were attempting to get Floyd inside.
"What you observed was a struggle between officers and the person they were arresting, correct?" Nelson asked her. She said that was correct. Nelson also asked her to recall her comments to the sergeant that she did not know if it was excessive use of force or just a "takedown."
After the prosecution examined Jena Scurry, a 911 dispatcher who sent officers to Cup Foods and then called a supervisor to report the use of force, the judge ordered a lunch break.
The defense will have an opportunity to cross-examine Scurry after the break.
Before the break defense attorney Eric Nelson told the judge that he had not had an opportunity to see the redacted video the prosecutors showed during their examination of Scurry. Nelson asked that the state provide those exhibits to him in advance.
Court is in recess until 1:30 p.m.
The prosecution called its first witness to the stand Monday morning. The first person to testify is Jena Lee Scurry, a Minneapolis 911 dispatcher.
She has worked in that role for almost seven years. Prosecutor Matthew Frank questioned Scurry first, after which the defense will have a chance to cross-examine.
Scurry was working a 2:30 p.m. to midnight shift on May 25, 2020. She said her responsibility was Precinct 2 and 3 that night.
She told prosecutor Frank that she dispatched a call for officers to Cup Foods.
Frank showed her a transcript of that 911 call. She described the initial call, saying that a male was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Frank then played part of the dispatch, in which Scurry described Floyd as a Black man 6 feet or taller.
Scurry went through the transcript of the dispatches line by line, explaining the call for a "mouth injury," and then another line where the call for an ambulance was upgraded to a higher urgency level.
She told Frank that at some point during the incident, she realized that from her office, she could see video from a street camera showing 38th and Chicago.
"I went in and out of the camera and being able to pay attention to it," she said. "I did not watch the whole video."
Scurry said she didn't see the whole thing because she was still dealing with other calls. She said she saw the officers trying to get Floyd into the squad car, and saw that the car "was moving a little bit."
Frank played some of that video for Scurry, asking her to describe which parts she saw. She said she started watching again when the officers were on the ground with Floyd.
Scurry said she went back to work and when she saw the screen again, "They were still on the ground." She said the situation didn't change when she continued to work and check on the video occasionally.
"It was long enough that I could look back multiple times," she said. "I first asked if the screens had frozen."
Scurry said then she started thinking, "Something might be wrong."
"My instincts were telling me that something was wrong," she told Frank. "It was an extended period of time. ... And they hadn't told me if they needed any more resources. It's a multitude of different things that ran through my brain, but I became concerned that something might be wrong."
She had a gut instinct, she said, that "now we can be concerned."
"I took that instinct and I called the sergeant," she said.
Scurry explained that the sergeant is the officers' supervisor, and is usually notified about use of force.
Frank played the call in which Scurry called the sergeant. "You can call me a snitch if you want to," she said. "320 over at Cup Foods, I don't know if they have use force or not. ... All of them sat on this man, so I don't know if they needed to or not."
"I'll find out," the sergeant responded.
"We don't get to ever see it, so when we see it, we're like, 'Well...'" she told the sergeant.
Scurry explained to Frank that she used the term "snitch" because reporting use of force is not within the realm of her duties, but that she was voicing her concerns. She said she had never made a call like that to the sergeant.
Derek Chauvin's defense attorney made his opening statement Monday morning after the prosecution's, which lasted about an hour.
"A reasonable doubt is a doubt based on reason and common sense," Eric Nelson said to start off. "At the end of this case we're going to talk a lot about doubt."
Nelson spoke to the jury about "common sense," which he called "the application of sound judgment based upon a reasoned analysis. And that's what this case is ultimately about."
Nelson said that the evidence is "far greater" than nine minutes and 29 seconds. The Minnesota BCA employed nearly 50 analysts and technicians, and the FBI 20, to investigate the case. Nelson said more than 50 Minneapolis Police Department members have been interviewed, including the responding officers and training overseers. More than 200 civilian witnesses have been interviewed as well, Nelson said, some of who did not see the actual event.
Medical personnel and first responders were interviewed, Nelson said.
Nelson told the jury about something called a "bait stamp system," which is a way for the attorneys to keep track of all the evidence and information in the case.
"We are approaching 50,000 bait-stamped items," he said. "So this case is about much more than nine minutes and 29 seconds."
Nelson asked the jury to focus on four locations: Cup Foods, the Mercedes Benz, squad #320 and Hennepin County Medical Center.
The defense attorney started with Cup Foods, where a clerk called 911 to report George Floyd as "drunk," saying "he's not acting right."
Nelson said the jurors will hear evidence of Floyd ingesting drugs before being arrested. He said that the jury will see that former officer Thomas Lane drew his weapon at Floyd.
"You will see and hear everything that these officers and Mr. Floyd say to each other," he said. "The evidence will show that when confronted by police, Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth in an effort to conceal them from police."
Nelson told the jury that when officers respond to a routine event, "it often evolves into a greater and more serious event."
He referenced the search warrants executed on the vehicles, saying that two pills were located and revealed to be a mixture of methamphetamine and fentanyl. Lane and former officer J. Alexander Kueng both asked Floyd "what he was on," Nelson said, and Floyd told them nothing.
Nelson said one bystander on the video can be heard telling Floyd, "Get in the car, you can't win."
He spoke to the jury about Floyd's size and said that three officers could not restrain him. He said because the neighborhood is considered high crime, there were other cameras that captured the scene. The squad car, he said, could be seen shaking as the officers tried to get Floyd inside.
"This was not an easy struggle," he said.
Floyd "appeared to continue to struggle to these officers," Nelson said, so much so that they decided to apply the "maximal restraint technique." He said it used to be called the hobble.
Ultimately, Nelson told the jury, they will have to determine whether there was a reasonable use of force.
"You will learn about rapidly evolving situations and the Minneapolis Police Department's decision-making model," he said. "And you will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do during his 19-year career."
"The use of force is not attractive," Nelson added.
Nelson told the jury that they will also learn about pills found in the squad car, which were identified as methamphetamine with traces of fentanyl, and had Floyd's DNA on them.
Finally, Nelson spoke about the fourth location: HCMC. He said that paramedics arrived on scene at 8:27 p.m., just 19 minutes after Kueng and Lane arrived, and within six minutes of it being referred to as a "code three." They picked up Floyd and loaded him into the ambulance instead of administering resuscitative efforts on the scene due to the crowd, he said.
Floyd was brought to HCMC, where efforts to save Floyd were made, Nelson said. "Later that evening, Mr. Floyd was pronounced dead," Nelson said.
Nelson said the jury will hear about conversations Dr. Baker, the medical examiner, had about the cause of death and what it means. Nelson pointed out that Floyd had "none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation," either of bruising or hemorrhaging. "(Baker) did not determine it to be a mechanical or positional asphyxia death," Nelson said.
Nelson told the jurors that fentanyl and meth were found in Floyd's system. He pointed out other medical issues that were found in Floyd's body. He said that the state was "not satisfied" with Baker's work, so they contracted with other experts to contradict him.
Nelson said he will show the jury that Floyd died of cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, the coronary disease, drug ingestion and adrenaline, which impacted "an already compromised heart."
"When you hear the actual evidence, and when you apply the law, reason and common sense, there will be only one just verdict," Nelson said. "Not guilty."
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell ended his opening statement Monday talking to the jury about George Floyd as a person.
He told jurors that they will learn more from upcoming witnesses about his life and background.
"We want you to know something about who George Floyd was as a person," he said. "Because he was somebody to a lot of other bodies in the world."
"Nine two nine," prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said when the jurors finished watching a bystander video of George Floyd under former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's knee.
He said those are the three most important numbers in the trial: Nine minutes and 29 seconds, during which Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd's neck.
Blackwell also drew the jury's attention to the off-duty first responder who asked the officers to check Floyd's pulse, and then called 911.
He told the jury that experts will explain that the prone position used on Floyd should only be used briefly to get a suspect under police control, "because of the potential to obstruct airways."
"Above all, the police are trained on the side position," he said. "You turn them over on their side as soon as possible" to allow them to recover, Blackwell explained.
He spoke to the jury about what the state will show them to prove both intent and medical causation.
"You can believe your eyes that it's a homicide, that it's murder," he said. "You can believe your eyes."
Blackwell went through some of the other possible causes of death, telling the jury that they will learn Floyd did not die from a drug overdose or a heart arrhythmia.
The jury was shown a copy of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office report on Floyd's death. Blackwell pointed out that the manner of death is homicide.
"It simply means that the person died at the hands of another," he said.
Blackwell went on to the cause of death, which is listed as cardiopulmonary arrest. He said that means that the heart stops and the lungs stop.
Blackwell said "complicating" factors listed were "law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression."
Blackwell said the jurors will hear about Floyd's medical conditions, but said that he lived "day in and day out" with those conditions until that nine minutes and 29 seconds under Chauvin's knee.
"That was the only day he didn't survive," Blackwell said.
The first video the prosecution showed jurors during opening statements was a bystander video of George Floyd under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell showed the jury the video after describing in detail what they were about to see.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell began his opening statement in the trial of Derek Chauvin by showing the jury a photo of the Minneapolis police badge.
"It's a small badge that carries with it a large responsibility and a large accountability to the public," Blackwell said.
Blackwell spoke to the jury about the officer's oath, including "never employing unnecessary force or violence."
“You will learn that on May 25 of 2020, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed his badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd,” Blackwell said. “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.”
Blackwell said that Chauvin knew that Floyd was in handcuffs, unarmed and defenseless.
“You will learn what happened in those 9 minutes and 29 seconds when Mr. Derek Chauvin was applying this excessive force,” he said.
Blackwell prepared the jury for what they will see on video presented in the courtroom. He said they will hear Floyd say 27 times “I can’t breathe.”
“You will hear him say, ‘Tell my kids I love them,’” Blackwell said. “’You will hear him say, about his fear of dying, ‘I’ll probably die this way.’”
Blackwell added, “You will hear him cry out in pain. ‘My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,’” Blackwell said. “While he’s crying out, Mr. Chauvin never moves.”
Blackwell said that for 4 minutes and 44 seconds Floyd cried out for his life, along with bystanders asking Chauvin to get up. But for the remaining 4 minutes and 44 seconds, Blackwell said, Floyd was either “unconscious, breathless or pulseless.”
“You will hear his voice get heavier, you will hear his words further apart, you will hear his voice get shallower and shallower and finally stops,” Black well said. For roughly 53 seconds, Blackwell said, Floyd will be silent and largely still aside for some movements. Blackwell said those are involuntary movements.
“You will see that he does not let up and he does not get up, even when Mr. Floyd does not have a pulse,” Blackwell said. “It continues on, ladies and gentlemen, even when the ambulance arrives on the scene.”
Blackwell told the jury that they will learn about the Minneapolis Police Department use of force policy. He said that force must be evaluated from moment to moment.
“What may be reasonable in the first moment may not be reasonable in the fourth moment,” he said.
The prosecutor said that the jurors will hear from Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who will tell them that Chauvin’s conduct was not appropriate use of force.
Blackwell told the jury that they will hear from police officers, bystanders, medical experts, experts in police conduct, a forensic pathologist, and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, among other witnesses.
“This case is not about all police, or all policing,” he said. “Police officers have difficult jobs.”
He said police officers often need to make split-second decisions, and the jury will hear from many police officers who take seriously the sanctity of life.
“This case is about Mr. Derek Chauvin and not about any of those men and women,” Blackwell said. “This case is not about split-second decision-making."
The 9:29 used by the prosecution was originally reported as 8:46, based on a bystander video from the scene. That number has become a symbol and rallying cry for activists in the discussion around police use of force against Black Americans. On Monday morning George Floyd's family and supporters knelt for 8:46 outside the Hennepin County Government Center.
Judge Cahill welcomed the jury for the Derek Chauvin trial by saying "You'll be the judge of the facts, and I'll be the judge of the law."
Cahill went on to give the jurors instructions that will help them parse through the upcoming weeks of witness testimony and evidence.
He reminded jurors of their responsibility to filter out any outside information about the case.
"You should avoid all news if possible," Cahill said. "But at the very least, you should avoid coverage of this case."
Before opening statements got underway on Monday, prosecutor Matthew Frank made a motion to clarify that the defense cannot share anything about George Floyd's "subjective state of mind" in opening statements.
Frank said the prosecution foresees a "potential problem" if the defense brings up the idea of Floyd resisting arrest. The prosecution acknowledged that the same rule will apply to their own opening statement.
"I essentially agree," defense attorney Eric Nelson said. "We're stating the objective observations of the police officers and the people who were there." He said he knows that Floyd's "subjective internal process is off-limits."
Judge Peter Cahill said statements like "he appeared to not be complying" are admissible, but "he was resisting" is not.
Ahead of the motion, Cahill dismissed the 15th juror, a white man in his 20s. He was a "temporary alternate" in case any of the other 14 jurors did not make it Monday morning.
Lee Hutton, an attorney who is offering context on the trial for KARE 11, said he believes that the jury is "very diverse."
"We all have biases," he said. "And that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just kind of what our experiences are in the world."
Hutton said generally jurors tend to be older, but there are several people in their 20s and 30s on this jury. He pointed out that the younger the person, the more accepting they were of the phrase "Black Lives Matter."
While four jurors identify as Black, two of those people are immigrants. Hutton said those people represent very different backgrounds.
"The attorneys are very well-versed that they may have different cultural understandings," he said.
While he as an African American man with parents who grew up in Jim Crow may have one view, Hutton said, an African immigrant who came to the U.S. for a better life may have another.
Saying it should not be a difficult trial, the lead attorney for the family of George Floyd said it's time for "whole justice," something that Black Americans deserve and traditionally have not had.
"This case is not hard," said attorney Ben Crump, surrounded by his legal team, Floyd's family members and civil rights legend the Rev. Al Sharpton, "when you watch the torture video of George Floyd... Derek Chauvin should be held criminally liable for the death of George Floyd. We have every right to get whole justice, civil justice and criminal justice."
Earlier this month, the Floyd family settled a civil suit with the city of Minneapolis for a record $27 million.
Crump told reporters and a gathered crowd that Chauvin's defense team is preparing to assassinate Floyd's character and claim that it was a drug overdose that killed him, not Chauvin's conduct.
"What killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force," Crump insisted.
"Mechanical asphyxiation by homicide," added his associate Tony Romanucci.
Rev. Sharpton said this case is about a man who was lynched using a knee, and voiced his opinion that the outcome will speak volumes about justice for Black people across the U.S.
"Make no mistake about it, Chauvin is in the courtroom, but America is on trial... that's why we're here," Sharpton said.
After members of Floyd's family spoke, they took a knee in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time Chauvin is seen kneeling on Floyd's neck in a bystander video.
Sunday, March 28
On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people marched in the streets of Minneapolis, calling for justice for George Floyd in the hours before Chauvin's trial.
Later Sunday evening, George Floyd's family joined Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights attorney Ben Crump at a prayer vigil and rally beginning at Greater Friendship Missionary Church in Minneapolis.
"The United States' ability to deal with police accountability is on trial," Sharpton told a large group of assembled news media before the vigil.
George Floyd's brother, Philonise, was among the many relatives in attendance.
"(Chauvin) took the soul out of my brother's body, as he begged for his mama. He said, 'tell my kids I love them.' No man should have to do that," Philonise Floyd said. "I need justice for George. We need a conviction."
Over the weekend the city of Minneapolis announced they would be increasing the number of 911 operators in emergency call centers, and implementing a plan called Operation Safety Net to protect the community in case of unrest around the trial.