What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Here’s what happened during closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial

Monday saw the closing arguments in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. The verdict to come is being closely watched in Minnesota and other cities around the country — many of them braced for protests, marches and potential unrest. Special correspondent Fred De Sam Lazaro reports on the final case made Monday by prosecutors and Chauvin's defense.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But, first, let's turn to the other major story of this day, the closing arguments in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

    The verdict will be closely watched in Minnesota and around the country, with many cities bracing for protests, marches and potential unrest.

    Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the final case made by prosecutors and Chauvin's defense.

  • And a warning:

    The testimony includes some graphic images of what happened to George Floyd.

  • Peter Cahill:

    You have now heard the evidence.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    Today's closing arguments culminated over two weeks of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial, with both sides revisiting video seen extensively throughout the trial, beginning with prosecutor Steve Schleicher.

  • Steve Schleicher:

    This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It's what you felt in your gut. It's what you know now in your heart.

    This wasn't policing. This was murder. The defendant is guilty of all three counts, all of them. And there's no excuse.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    Chauvin is charged on three counts, with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in the second degree.

  • Steve Schleicher:

    Nine minutes and 29 seconds, nine minutes and 29 seconds, he was trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down, pushing him, a knee to the neck, a knee to the back, twisting his fingers, holding his legs for nine minutes and 29 seconds, the defendant's weight on him.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    Although the Floyd case sparked debate in Minneapolis about reforming, even abolishing the police, prosecutors said, that's not what this trial is about.

  • Steve Schleicher:

    Make no mistake, this is not a prosecution of police. It is a prosecution of the defendant.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    Chauvin took notes by hand throughout the prosecution's statements, but notably removed his mask for his own lawyer's closing arguments.

    For his part, defense attorney Eric Nelson also used police bodycam video, which he said demonstrated that Chauvin's actions were reasonable in a fast-moving situation.

  • Eric Nelson:

    You can't limit it to nine minutes and 29 seconds. It started 17 minutes before that nine minutes and 29 seconds.

    In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force, as unattractive as it may be. And this is reasonable doubt.

    There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied unlawful force. It's tragic. It's tragic.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    On the cause of Floyd's death, Nelson discounted testimony from several prosecution witnesses who said it was asphyxia caused by Chauvin's actions. Nelson said they had cherry-picked video, and argued that drugs and underlying disease were responsible.

  • Eric Nelson:

    Do not let yourselves be misled by a single still-frame image. Put the evidence in its proper context.

    The failure of the state's experts to acknowledge any possibility, any possibility at all that any of these other factors in any way contributed to Mr. Floyd's death defies medical science and it defies common sense.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    The prosecution returned with a brief rebuttal.

  • Jerry Blackwell:

    Well, here's what I thought, then, was the largest departure from here, the evidence. I will show it to you. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    After jurors went into deliberations, Judge Peter Cahill denied a motion for a mistrial from defense attorney Nelson, who said he was concerned about the influence of intense media publicity.

  • Man:

    And we stand united.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro :

    Outside the courthouse today, a prayer vigil was held with the families of Floyd and 20-year-old Daunte Wright, killed a week ago in a police shooting.

    In a metropolitan area on edge, there were also pleas from local leaders to maintain peaceful protests.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Fred de Sam Lazaro in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Listen to this Segment