Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds– not the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that fast became a symbol of police brutality and sparked nationwide protests calling for police reform.
Jury selection for Chauvin’s wrapped up last week and on Monday, opening statements began.
Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell repeatedly highlighted the 9:29 timing, accusing him of “excessive and unreasonable force.”
“Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this 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.”
For 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Blackwell also addressed the defense’s narrative that Floyd died from an overdose.
“George Floyd struggled with an opioid addiction,” Blackwell said. “He struggled with it for years. He did not die from a drug overdose. He did not die from an opioid overdose.”
Blackwell argued that Floyd’s death was a direct result of Chauvin’s use of force, adding that Chauvin “was well aware that Mr. Floyd was unarmed, that Mr. Floyd had not threatened anyone, that Mr. Floyd was in handcuffs; he was completely in the control of the police.”
Chauvin’s defense attorney did not dispute the new timing but continues to dispute Floyd’s cause of death.
“The evidence is far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” defense attorney Eric Nelson. He claims that a combination of drug use and preexisting health problems caused his death and that Chauvin’s use of force was by the book.
“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career,” Nelson said. “The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing.”