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Floyd family lawyer: No one would call this a hard case if victim was white

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump on Monday set the tone prior to opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minnesota police officer who is charged with the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis last May.

“Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come on its quest for equality and justice for all,” Crump said at a press conference outside of Hennepin County courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.

“This murder case is not hard, just look at the torture video of George Floyd,” Crump continued, saying that there would be no question whether Chauvin would get convicted if Floyd was white.

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Crump, who represented Floyd’s family in a record $27 million settlement with the city, also predicted that Chauvin’s defense team would try to attack the character of Floyd, calling him “everything but a child of God.”

“They’re going to talk about ... his record, but his record isn’t the issue because this is the trial of Derek Chauvin,” Crump said.

The trial of Chauvin, who is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, is expected to last up to a month. Much of March was spent empaneling a jury for the trial, an endeavor which proved challenging given the case’s high-profile status.

Floyd, 46, was pronounced dead at an area hospital on May 25 after Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, even after he was unconscious. Graphic cellphone footage showed Floyd pleading with Chauvin multiple times, saying that he couldn’t breath before becoming unresponsive.

“This was not a flash of anger, it became intentional and deliberate, and justice must be intentional and deliberate in this courthouse,” the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was also present at the press conference, said. 

Officials ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report revealing he died from "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”

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Floyd’s death — along with the police killing of Breonna Taylor — was a catalyst for a summer dominated by nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and unrest.

Earlier this month, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was first introduced in June following Floyd’s death.

The bill faces a tough road in the Senate, where GOP lawmakers are already bashing it as overly partisan.

If signed into law, the legislation would overhaul national policing standards.

Racial profiling at every level of law enforcement would be prohibited; chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants would be banned at the federal level; qualified immunity for officers would be overhauled and a national police misconduct registry would be created so officers who were fired for such discretions could not be hired by another police department.

At 8:46 a.m. local time, Crump, Sharpton and members of Floyd’s family took a knee to symbolize the amount of time — eight minutes, 46 seconds — Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.