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Chauvin defense attorney says he and two others involved in trial went to same high school

Eric Nelson, the attorney representing Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, revealed a connection between himself and two others that have been involved in the trial during closing arguments on Monday. 

Nelson revealed that he, Darnella Frazier, a teen bystander who captured viral footage of the arrest of Floyd that preceded his death, and Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo attended the same high school.

He made the disclosure while trying to focus on the differences between perspective and perception before contrasting the different views of the arrest offered by witness testimony and that of Chauvin during the events that led up to him pinning Floyd to the ground that day and when he restrained him.

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“Your perception is how you interpret what it is you see and what it is you experience … These are the things that make us who we are. Three people in this trial went to the same high school: me, Darnella Frazier and Chief Arradondo,” he began. 

“We all went to the same high school, obviously at different times. … We had the same perspective, sat in the same classrooms, saw the same chalkboards or whiteboards, the same perspective, but our perception of our experiences there is going to be much different,” he continued. 

Nelson then went on to look at testimony offered by different witnesses brought in during the trial and how they contrasted before focusing on Chauvin’s perceived angle of events the day of the arrest leading up to the moment he pinned Floyd to the ground.

“We do not look at this incident from the perspective of the people who are upset by it. We look at it from the perspective of a reasonable police officer,” Nelson said.   

His comments come as the attorney has sought to get the jury to look beyond bystander footage of the arrest, which shows Chauvin pinning Floyd to the street with his knee for more than nine minutes, to consider the former officer’s perception of events at the time as it works to make the case he acted in a “reasonable” way in his restraint that day.

Though Chauvin has waived his right to testify during his trial, invoking the Fifth Amendment, Nelson has focused on how the environment during the arrest, particularly the crowd of bystanders that gathered near the officers then, and the events that preceded Floyd being pinned to the ground, could have factored into the former officer’s decisionmaking at the time. 

“The proper analysis is to take those 9 minutes and 29 seconds and put it into the context of the totality of the circumstances. The proper analysis starts with what did the officers or what would a reasonable officer know at the time of dispatch,” Nelson said.