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Jury Considers Fate of Derek Chauvin, Judge Rebukes Maxine Waters

04-20-2021
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Demonstrators rally outside the Hennepin County Government Center during the murder trial against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Demonstrators rally outside the Hennepin County Government Center during the murder trial against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

All eyes are on Minneapolis as the nation awaits a verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. 

Both sides gave their closing arguments Monday, the prosecution insisting Floyd did not pose a threat to the officers on the scene and pushing the point that the entire profession is not on trial, just this one former police officer. 

"Just a human, just a man, lying on the pavement being pressed upon desperately crying out," said prosecutor Steve Schleicher. 

The defense argued that the entire episode should be seen in context. 

"A reasonable police officer would, in fact, take into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds, their experience with the subject, the struggle that they had," said defense attorney Eric Nelson. 

The defense also argued that bystanders seemed like a threat and that the cause of Floyd's death were drugs and heart disease. 

"The failure of the state's experts to acknowledge any possibility, any possibility at all that any of these other factors in any way contributed to Mr. Floyd's death defies medical science and it defies common sense," said Nelson. 

Deliberations are now underway for the jury, a diverse group made up of five men and seven women, four of whom are black, six white, and two identifying as multi-racial. 

As the nation awaits a verdict, there are now concerns a U.S. representative may have disrupted the process. Over the weekend Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) went to Minneapolis and told protestors to demand the right verdict. 

"We've got to stay on the street and we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational," said Waters. "We've got to make sure that they, they know we mean business." 

Her comments led to a rebuke from the judge in the case.  

"Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned," Judge Peter Cahill told the defense. "I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the Judicial branch and our function." 

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Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says he'll introduce a resolution in the House to censure Watters, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has already said she doesn't believe Watters needs to apologize. 

Meanwhile, cities across the country are bracing for possible unrest. In Minneapolis, 2,000 National Guard troops are ready to defend the streets. 

Deliberations could take anywhere from hours to days or even weeks, as Judge Cahill told jurors right before closing arguments began to "plan long, hope for short."  

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