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Chauvin defense hits at prosecutors for focusing too much on his kneeling on Floyd

Defense attorney Eric Nelson, who is representing Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, hit at the prosecution during closing arguments on Monday for focusing heavily on the amount of time Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground during the arrest that preceded his death last year.

“The state has really focused on the 9 minutes and 29 seconds, 9 minutes and 29 seconds, 9 minutes and 29 seconds. It's not the proper analysis because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 15 minutes and 59 seconds, completely disregards,” the attorney said during the trial on Monday afternoon. 

“It says in that moment, at that point, nothing else that happened before should be taken into consideration by a reasonable police officer. It tries to reframe the issue of what a reasonable police officer would do,” he continued. 

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During the trial, the prosecution has zeroed in on footage captured of the arrest, highlighting the number of minutes Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back as it argues the former officer caused Floyd's death through the use of force.

“You can believe your own eyes. This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It is exactly that. You can believe your eyes,” prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher said during his closing arguments on early Monday.

The prosecution has relied on testimony from medical experts and law enforcement professionals to make its case that Chauvin’s restraint tactics were not justified and caused Floyd to suffer from a lack of oxygen that resulted in his death.

The defense, on the other hand, has focused on the events leading up to Floyd’s arrest, with Nelson noting on Monday the “active resistance” he said Chauvin saw occurring when he got to the scene. He also highlighted the potential distraction the crowd of bystanders that gathered near the officers during the arrest could have had on Chauvin when he was restraining Floyd.

Nelson has also spent much time during the trial focusing on the role Floyd’s drug use and underlying health conditions could have played in his death. However, some medical experts brought in by the prosecution have pushed back on the impact those factors could have had.

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The efforts by Nelson have come as the defense has worked to refute the argument that Chauvin’s use of force was a substantial causal factor in Floyd’s death.

According to pool reports, the jury seemed to be “getting antsy” during Nelson’s closing arguments ahead of lunchtime on Monday, with several jurors documented to have been rubbing their eyes and “fidgeting” after sitting for more than two hours in the courtroom. 

Nelson apologized during his arguments for the amount of time he was taking to present his case, at which time pool reporters said he appeared to be “reading the faces of the jurors.”

Nelson also previously told the jury at the start of his comments on Monday that his arguments may be “long-winded,” noting that he would have only “one bite at the apple” to make his case given that the state also has the chance to rebut his arguments after he concludes.

Monday marked the 15th day of the murder trial of Chauvin, who currently faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case.