The former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd went on trial Monday, with a prosecutor telling the jury that the figure to remember is 9 minutes, 29 seconds — the amount of time Derek Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck as the Black man pleaded for his life and went limp.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors that Chauvin “didn’t let up, he didn’t get up” even after Floyd said 27 times that he couldn’t breathe and went motionless.
“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,” Blackwell said.
He said bystander witnesses would include a Minneapolis Fire Department first responder who wanted to administer aid. He said Chauvin pointed Mace at her.
“She wanted to check on his pulse, check on Mr. Floyd’s well-being,” Blackwell said. “She did her best to intervene. When she approached Mr. Chauvin …. Mr. Chauvin reached for his Mace and pointed it in her direction. She couldn’t help.”
Widely seen bystander video of the encounter sparked outrage across the U.S. and led to widespread protests and scattered violence.
A jury of 14 people will hear the case — eight who are white and six who are Black or multiracial, according to the court. Two of the 14 will be alternates. The judge has not said which ones will be alternates and which ones will deliberate the case.
With files from the Associated Press
Philip Dube, deputy public defender with LA County