BY BODE GBADEBO with agency report
The jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer accused of killing George Floyd in May, 2020, has retired to weigh up its verdict.
Security has been beefed up around the court building in the city of Minneapolis, which is protected by barbed wire, high barriers and armed soldiers from the National Guard.
“This was murder,” the prosecutor said in closing arguments on Monday.
The defence argued that Chauvin had correctly followed police training.
He behaved as any “reasonable police officer” would, lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, said, adding that the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death gave rise to reasonable doubt.
But prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, urged jurors to “use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw,” referring to the video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd for more than nine minutes.
“This wasn’t policing; this was murder,” the prosecutor added.
The footage of Chauvin, who is white, restraining Floyd, a black man, on the floor as he shouted “I can’t breathe” spurred months of global protests against racism in 2020.
The trial of Chauvin has been described as a pivotal moment for race relations and policing in the US.
Cities across the country are bracing for protests regardless of whether the jury decides to convict or acquit Chauvin of murder and manslaughter charges.
Earlier on Monday the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, requested security assistance from the states of Ohio and Nebraska ahead of the verdict.
Minneapolis is currently a city on the edge of many residents await the verdict with bated breath.