Will Derek Chauvin Take the Stand While on Trial for George Floyd's Death?

Shannon Raphael - Author

Mar. 30 2021, Published 12:53 p.m. ET

Derek Chauvin
Source: YouTube / Reuters

More than 10 months after George Floyd died while in police custody, Derek Chauvin is on trial at the Hennepin County Government Center. The former Minneapolis police officer was charged with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder in May of 2020. The charges were amended just a few days later to include second-degree unintentional murder, which holds the highest potential sentence. 

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Chauvin and three other officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung, and Tou Thao, were at the scene when George Floyd was arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. 

Videos were taken at the scene that showed Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck for just under nine-and-a-half minutes. They sparked outrage and protests all around the world. 

Source: Getty
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Chauvin's trial began on March 29, 2021, while the other three former officers are scheduled to appear in court for trial in August. (They are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.)

As the trial unfolds, many are wondering about the strategies for both the defense and the prosecution. Others are curious about who exactly will take the stand.

Will Derek Chauvin take the stand?

Though Derek Chauvin does have the right to testify at his trial, it's publicly unknown at this time if he will do so. 

The trial is expected to last four weeks, and more information will be released about testimonies and strategies as it progresses. 

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What is Derek Chauvin's lawyer's defense?

The first day of the trial revealed aspects of the strategies that will be employed for both the prosecution and the defense. 

Derek Chauvin's legal defense, which is led by Eric Nelson, has been covered by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. Nelson is one of 12 attorneys on the panel for the aforementioned association. 

Source: YouTube / Reuters

Eric Nelson

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Chauvin and the other three officers fired following George Floyd's death are able to have their legal fees taken care of because the Minneapolis Police Department is a member of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

Nelson is joined by his assistant, Amy Voss, who is also a licensed attorney.

According to The New York Times, Derek Chauvin's lawyer will argue that the jurors need to consider more than the video of the former police officer kneeling on George Floyd. Nelson said that there are more than 50,000 evidence items.

They will want the 14 jurors (including two alternates) to take into account George Floyd's size, that he had drugs in his system at the time, and that the growing crowd at the scene could have distracted Chauvin.

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Nelson has already stated that Chauvin was doing "what he was trained to do," and that "the use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing."

While the prosecution is set to argue that George Floyd died from asphyxiation as a result of pressure placed on his airway due to Chauvin's kneeling, the defense is presenting a different cause of death.

Source: YouTube / Reuters

The defense is asserting that the 46-year-old died from a combination of heart disease, hypertension, adrenaline, and the drugs in his system. In opening statements, Nelson claimed that George Floyd showed "none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation," and that there was "no evidence that Mr. Floyd's airflow was restricted."

The cause of death is expected to be one of the most integral factors in the trial.

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