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Chauvin invokes Fifth Amendment, won't testify in defense

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin invoked the Fifth Amendment on Thursday, confirming that he will not testify in his murder trial over the killing of George Floyd.

“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin said during a conversation with defense attorney Eric Nelson, ending the speculation over whether the former officer would take the stand in his own defense. 

In questioning with Judge Peter Cahill, Chauvin confirmed that it was his decision not to testify, and that his decision was a voluntary one.

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The development came on the 14th day of the trial, and what is expected to be the final day of the defense’s case.

Chauvin faces second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd. The former officer is charged with killing Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes, which was captured on video footage in May 2020 and triggered nationwide demonstrations for racial justice.

Cahill on Wednesday denied the defense’s request to acquit Chauvin of the criminal charges of Floyd’s murder, rejecting the defense’s claims that prosecutors failed to prove that Chauvin’s actions last year killed Floyd.

The defense began its case on Tuesday, and has since called seven witnesses to the stand, including a use-of-force expert, a Minneapolis Park Police officer who responded to the scene of Floyd’s arrest, a former medical examiner and a friend of Floyd who was with him when police approached his car.

The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday morning after calling 38 witnesses to the stand over the course of 11 days. Testimony came from police officers, bystanders, paramedics and use-of-force experts, in addition to Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, who emotionally recalled the close relationship between his brother and their mother.

“I miss both of them," he said, adding of the two, "Every mother loves all of her kids, but it was so unique how they were with each other."

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The cause of Floyd’s death has been a key point of contention throughout the trial.

In June, the Hennepin County medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, writing that he experienced cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement.

The defense, however, has argued that Floyd died from a combination of drugs in his system and his underlying heart disease.