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jurors plunged into the heart of the debate during the trial of Derek Chauvin

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                After three weeks devoted to the selection of jurors, the substantive debates began Monday in the context of the trial of Derek Chauvin, accused of the murder of George Floyd.  The prosecution intends to make the judgment a "referendum" on justice in the United States after the giant demonstrations against racism, sparked by the death of the black forty-something.

                                    <p>Images bordering on sustainability.  In the United States, the trial of the white police officer accused of the murder of George Floyd entered hard, Monday, March 29, with the broadcast, at the start of the charge, of the video of the ordeal of the Afro-American.

Derek Chauvin “betrayed” his police oath and made “excessive and unreasonable use of force” against the black forty-something, immediately denounced the prosecutor Jerry Blackwell.

“We are going to prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Chauvin is far from innocent,” he told the jurors, reminding them that the policeman remained kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, pinned to the ground and handcuffed, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. The prosecutor then showed them a video of the drama, filmed by a passerby. On this recording which has been around the world, George Floyd groans, gasps, begs “I can’t breathe”, before losing consciousness.

Prosecutors want to show that Derek Chauvin showed contempt for the life of George Floyd by maintaining his pressure even though he had passed out, and his pulse had finally disappeared. To prove that his attitude was outside the norm, they called as the first witness the switchboard operator who had dispatched the agents to George Floyd.

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Jena Scurry recounted having followed, while handling other calls, their intervention on a surveillance camera. “I thought the image was frozen,” they stayed still for a long time, “my instinct told me something was wrong,” she said. She then decided to call a police officer. “You might say I’m snitch,” she told him before reporting the incident to him.

“No political cause in the courtroom”

Me Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin who pleads not guilty, assured that his client had acted in accordance with his training and asked the jurors to focus on the facts, far from any political considerations. “Derek Chauvin has done exactly what he’s been trained to do in his 19-year career,” said Eric Nelson, at the start of his pitch. “This case is about the evidence that will be presented to you” for the next three to four weeks, he told jurors. “There is no political or social cause in the courtroom.”

According to Me Nelson, the forties, who suffered from health problems, is said to have succumbed to an overdose of fentanyl, a powerful opioid whose traces were found at autopsy.

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Just before the hearing, the lawyer for the family of George Floyd underlined the “historical” dimension of this trial. It is “a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all,” said Ben Crump.

“Chauvin is in the dock, but it is America that is on trial,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist who, with relatives of George Floyd, knelt in silence for about nine minutes outside the courtroom.

<p><strong>Fear of further riots</strong>

The authorities have appealed for calm and “peaceful demonstrations” during the trial, while protesters are to meet in court on Monday morning.

Epidemic obliges, the trial takes place without an audience but the hearings are broadcast live and many Americans should follow them.

The verdict is expected in late April or early May. The twelve jurors will have to rule unanimously, otherwise the trial will be considered void. This scenario, or an acquittal, could spark further riots in Minneapolis, which already flared up in late May.

Prosecutions against police officers for violence committed in the performance of their duties are indeed very rare and convictions even more.

The city hall of Minneapolis, which decided to reform the police force in depth, agreed in mid-March to pay $ 27 million in damages to the family of George Floyd to put an end to his civil complaint.

“I have a huge void in my heart, it can not be filled, no amount of money can. We want a conviction,” said Sunday evening the brother of George Floyd, Philonise.

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer criticized the agreement, which he said could influence jurors.

Also because of the Covid-19, the three other police officers involved in the tragedy, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, will be tried in August for “complicity in murder”.

With AFP

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