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Snippet of NPR's Up First: Closing Arguments in Derek Chauvin's Trial Begin Today

Last Played: April 21, 2021
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Minneapolis is preparing for a verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin as closing arguments begin today.
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today, the prosecution and the defense will make their closing arguments to the jury and Derek Chauvin's murder trial. For nearly three weeks, jurors heard testimony from police, medical experts and members of George Floyd's family. They watched videos of Floyd dying under chauvin's knee from every angle. This week, the jury will begin deliberation. NPR's Leila Fadel is covering the trial in Minneapolis. Good morning, Leila, Good morning. What are you expecting over the next few days. So after closing arguments, the prosecution gets a rebuttal and then the jury will get instructions from the judge and be sequestered as they deliberate on the two murder charges and the manslaughter charge chauvin is facing. Now this jury is very aware they're deliberating on a verdict under intense public scrutiny. Some expressed weariness during jury selection about what may happen if they decide to convict on some or all charges or if they decide to acquit as far as how long it will take to get a verdict, it could be hours or it could be weeks. We just don't know the intense public scrutiny that the jury is facing stems in part from the fact that there is more at stake here than what happens to Derek chauvin, isn't there? Right. A lot of people see this verdict as a referendum on race, policing and accountability and it's very rare in this country for a police officer to get convicted for the killing of an unarmed person here in Minnesota, only one police officer has ever been convicted for killing someone. In that case. It was a black police officer that shot and killed a white woman. But the show of in case has been unusual, most notably because we saw police officers testify against one of their own. From the witness stand, we heard police officers call Shelvin pinning Floyd's neck to the ground for so long, totally unnecessary, excessive and a violation of police department policies. Among those who testified was the police chief Madero Arredondo, which as far as we know is unprecedented. He said that shove in continuing to apply that level of force. We watched in that video to a man that was handcuffed and on the ground was wrong. That in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy is not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or values. And several police officers, as you said, testified to the same. What does Minneapolis look like right now? Well, the courthouse is a fortress. Downtown. Minneapolis is a maze of boarded up buildings. There are military style vehicles on downtown city corners. National Guard walking around with weapons out and you see the same thing in other parts of the twin cities and a neighborhood security team of National Guard and Police Came under fire yesterday morning, No one was seriously injured. So the city is tense and not only is it dealing with what is arguably the most important criminal trial regarding race and policing of this moment. People are reeling after the killing of another black man last week by police during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis. That killing has prompted renewed protests. Law enforcement have detained people used force to disperse the crowds at night, including reports of hitting and mason journalists, some people in the crowds of their own fireworks, bottles and other objects of law enforcement. And when you talk to people there, how do they say? They're feeling anxious, scared, nervous and watching the trial for a lot of people has been too hard. I met too kyra smith and George Floyd Square and she was there with her niece, nephew and four year old son to pay respects to Floyd at the sight of his killing. She says she hasn't been able to watch much of this trial to have to have that trial like live in on tv. To me it's hurtful because you know what you did and to have to sit there and have people think that you didn't do it or you weren't trying to hurt anybody or for you to think that you weren't hurting anybody. You know, you were like, how could you not think you weren't hurting anybody? So to watch that it's killing me. She says she's hoping for guilty on all charges and change that will make her four year old son's future safer. NPR's Leila Fadel in Minneapolis. Thanks Leila, Thank you.
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