Daily Video

April 6, 2021

Daily News Lesson: The trial of Derek Chauvin


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To read a transcript of the video, click here.

Summary: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial right now. He was charged with second and third degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd last May. On the fourth day of the trial, jurors heard from Floyd’s girlfriend about his life and struggles. 

  • Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, told the story of how the two met at a Salvation Army shelter in 2017, and she spoke about their shared struggle with opioid addiction. 
  • Chauvin’s defense is trying to blame Floyd’s death on his drug use, coupled with underlying health conditions. 
  • Lawyers for Floyd’s family released a statement, saying, “We fully expected the defense to put George’s character and struggles with addiction on trial, because that is the go-to tactic when the facts are not on your side.”
  • Minneapolis Police Sergeant David Ploeger testified that the officers should not have restrained Floyd in the manner in which they did, or for as long as the did. The emergency room doctor who tried to revive Floyd suggested that he likely died due to lack of oxygen to his lungs.  

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is Derek Chauvin? Who is George Floyd?
  • Why is he on trial?
  • What strategy did Chauvin’s lawyers use to defend him?
  • How is Sergeant Ploeger’s testimony important?
  • Where is this trial based?

Focus questions:

  1. Did you expect Chauvin’s defense to use Floyd’s past drug use against him? Why is this something Floyd’s family could assume would happen?
  2. What important perspective does Floyd’s girlfriend bring to the trial? Why do you think they chose to have her comment on his character and their relationship?

Media literacy: Of all the witnesses on the fourth day of the trial, including the Minneapolis police sergeant, first responders and Floyd’s girlfriend, why do you think the reporters chose to highlight Courteney Ross? 

Additional resources:

  • Watch this NewsHour video about the second day of the trial. It offers insights into the minors who were present at the scene, and their testimony now. Note: The video in the link contains graphic video of police restraining Floyd.
  • Check out this sit-down interview with Minnesota Public Radio’s Brandt Williams who’s covering the trial. 

Written by Rebecca Shaid, EXTRA’s intern and Northwestern University student, and EXTRA’s Vic Pasquantonio

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