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Derek Chauvin's defense focuses on reasonable doubt in a closing argument that compares the murder case to baking cookies

·3 min read
Derek Chauvin
Derek Chauvin watches as his attorney gives his closing argument. CourtTV/Pool camera
  • Derek Chauvin's attorney said in his closing argument his client acted as a "reasonable officer."

  • Eric Nelson said Chauvin used his experience and training to assess the scene when he arrived.

  • Nelson explained reasonable doubt to jurors by comparing the prosecution's case to baking cookies.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The defense attorney for fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday urged jurors to focus on any reasonable doubt and inconsistencies between the prosecution witnesses' testimony in the murder case.

In his closing argument, Eric Nelson asked jurors to consider the circumstances Chauvin had to assess when approaching George Floyd on the day of his death. He said dispatchers asked Chauvin to get to the scene quickly; that Floyd was large and likely intoxicated; and that the two officers already on scene when Chauvin arrived were rookies.

Chauvin first spent some time observing when he arrived on scene, Nelson said, and he realized officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng weren't using enough force when they were unable to get control of Floyd.

"Then he goes hands on," Nelson said of Chauvin.

The former officer is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his body for nine minutes and 29 seconds. During the two-week trial, 38 witnesses testified about what happened the day Floyd died.

Nelson compared the case to baking cookies in order to explain to jurors that if the prosecution didn't prove all of the elements of a crime, they must find Chauvin not guilty.

"The criminal case is kind of like baking chocolate chip cookies," Nelson said. "You have to have all the necessary ingredients. You've got to have flour and sugar and butter and chocolate chips and whatever else goes into those chocolate chip cookies. If you have all of those ingredients, make chocolate chip cookies. If you're missing any single ingredient, you can't make chocolate chip cookies."

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin
Eric Nelson sits with Derek Chauvin during the prosecution's closing argument. CourtTV/pool camera

Defense argues Chauvin used his experiences and training to assess the situation

Nelson told jurors the prosecution's focus on the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd ignores the full extent of their encounter. He described Chauvin as "a reasonable officer" who observed the scene and assessed whether he should escalate the use of force.

Part of that assessment was to weigh the risks that the "fluid" situation was likely to change and become more dangerous, Nelson said.

Floyd was resisting when Chauvin began using force, he added, and a "reasonable officer" will reassess the use of force as the interaction continues.

"Remember what Lt. Johnny Mercil said, simply because a person isn't kicking at you or punching you or biting you doesn't mean you can't physically control them with your body weight," he said, referring to testimony from a Minneapolis Police Department use of force trainer.

Unlike the experts who testified, Chauvin didn't have the privilege of watching Floyd's actions over and over on video before deciding the level of force he would use, Nelson said. Instead, he argued Chauvin had to rely on his training and experience to make decisions on the fly as the situation unfolded.

The prosecution said in closing that Chauvin's body language when dealing with the crowd gathered at the scene showed "indifference" towed Floyd's life. State prosecutor Steve Schleicher said Chauvin "wasn't going to be told what to do" by bystanders, and continued to grind his knee into Floyd because he didn't like having his authority questioned.

Nelson argued that Chauvin looking around as he held Floyd to the ground indicated he was following training and trying to appear confident.

Chauvin was assessing whether or not he was hurting Floyd as bystanders alleged, he said.

Read the original article on Insider

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