The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was accused of killing George Floyd last year and prompted a wave of Black Lives Matter protests, got underway with opening arguments in Minneapolis on Monday, The Guardian reports.

Iran Press/America: Opening arguments began today in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.

State prosecutors on Monday said Chauvin had “betrayed this badge” last May when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes as he was arresting him for using a counterfeit $20.

Chauvin, 45, has denied charges of second-and third-degree murder and manslaughter over the death of the 46-year-old Black man after he was detained on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill last May.

Central to the prosecution case is a nearly nine-minute bystander video of the police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he is handcuffed and as two other officers keep him pinned to the ground.

Floyd is heard to say “I can’t breathe” and “I’m about to die”.

The video shocked many Americans and led to some of the biggest protests against racial injustice since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Civil rights attorney and commentator Areva Martin told The Guardian: “The family is seeking justice; the public is seeking accountability.”

She added: “The world is waiting to see if the US will be courageous enough to stand up to a system that has a history of violating the rights of African Americans and, rather than protecting those lives, has actually destroyed them.”

The prosecution and defense are expected to focus on the cause of Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s reasoning.

An autopsy by the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office ruled Floyd’s death a homicide because he suffered from heart failure brought on by “law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.”

Chauvin’s defense is expected to focus on the examination’s finding that Floyd had heart disease and there was evidence of “fentanyl intoxication” and “recent methamphetamine use.”

The prosecution, led by Minnesota’s attorney general, Keith Ellison, is expected to allege that Chauvin had a long history of excessive force including kneeling on people during his 20-year police career. He was fired and arrested after Floyd’s death.


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