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Defense makes closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson opened his closing argument on Monday by reminding the jury that Derek Chauvin "does not have to prove his innocence."

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial is seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades.


What he's saying: Nelson focused his remarks on two issues: determining Floyd's exact cause of death and arguing that if Chauvin's actions were an authorized use of force under his department's policy, then he would not have committed a crime. He argued that Floyd was actively resisting arrest, while prosecutors said Floyd was unable to comply.

  • "I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Nelson said. "If they are missing any one single element, it is a not guilty verdict."
  • "The standard is not what should the officer have done in these circumstances. It's not what could the officer have done differently in these circumstances. The standard is what were the facts that were known to this officer at the precise moment he used force and considering all of the totality of circumstances and facts known to the officer, would a reasonable police officer — what would a reasonable police officer have done?"
  • Nelson listed several factors as examples of what an officer in Chauvin's position would have been aware of while "assessing the threats" of an arrest, including: "Is this a high-crime location? Is it a low-crime area?" ... "Am I going into a densely populated urban environment, or am I in a secluded backyard?"

Catch up quick: Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder for Floyd's death.

  • Per AP, he faces a maximum sentence of 40 years for second-degree murder, 10 years for second-degree manslaughter, and 25 years for third-degree murder.
  • Prosecutors must prove that Chauvin meant to harm Floyd — but not kill him — to reach a verdict of second-degree murder. Finding him guilty of third-degree murder would require proof that Chauvin's actions were "done with indifference to loss of life," AP reports.
  • To prove second-degree manslaughter, jurors would need to find that Floyd died from Chauvin's negligence and "consciously took the chance of causing severe injury or death," per AP.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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