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MINNEAPOLIS — George Floyd begged for his life “until he could speak no more,” prosecutors said Monday during closing arguments at the murder trial of ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin.
“George Floyd’s final words on May 25, 2020 were, ‘Please, I can’t breathe,’” prosecutor Steve Schleicher told the jury. “Please, I can’t breathe.”
“Nine minutes and 29 seconds,” Schleicher said. “During this time George Floyd struggled, desperate to breathe, to make enough room in his chest to breathe.”
“But the force was too much,” he continued. “He was trapped. He was trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath, as unyielding as the men who held him down, pushing him.”
Schleicher also addressed claims by the defense that Floyd had to be restrained because he was larger and stronger than Chauvin.
“There was no superhuman strength that day,” he said. “There’s no superhuman strength because there s no such thing as superman strength. Those exist in comic books.”
“Only humans,” he added. “Just a man. Just a man lying on the pavement, being pressed upon. Desperately crying out. A grown man crying out for his mother.”
Schleicher said Floyd was “so desperate to breathe he pushed with his face — with his face — to lift himself, to open his chest, to give his lungs room to breathe.”
He said of Chauvin, “that day his badge wasn’t in the right place.”
“He knew better. He just didn’t do better,” Schleicher said. “This was not an accident.”
“He betrayed the badge and everything it stood for,” he said. “It’s not how they’re trained. It’s not following the rules.”
“This is not an anti-police prosecution,” he added. “It’s a pro-police prosecution.”
Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson is due to present closing arguments later today.
The closing arguments in the case come on the 15th day of the trial, with prosecutors calling 38 witnesses and the defense seven over nearly three weeks.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s caught-on-video death while he was being arrested for allegedly passing a $20 counterfeit bill at a local convenience store.
Floyd’s death last year sparked worldwide protests and unrest — prompting authorities to install unprecedented security measures at the Hennepin County District Court building.
Authorities in Minneapolis and beyond — including New York City — are on high alert in anticipation of new protests and demonstrations following the verdict.
The jury at Chauvin’s trial consists of three black men; two white men; one black woman; four white women; and two women who identify as multiracial.
Prosecutors relied heavily on footage of Floyd’s death throughout the trial, repeatedly showing the jury multiple angles of the incident.
Medical and use-of-force experts — and police brass that included Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo — also testified that Floyd died as a result of Chauvin’s restraint and said the restraint is improper.
Defense attorneys countered that Floyd died as a result of drug use and a pre-existing heart condition, not Chauvin’s actions.
They also argued that Chauvin used proper and “reasonable” restraint, and said the ex-cop was distracted by an increasingly hostile crowd of bystanders.
Chauvin, who was fired following the fatal encounter, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the top charge against him.
Three other since-fired Minneapolis cops — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao — are scheduled to stand trial this summer on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
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