A lawyer representing George Floyd’s family told CNN on Sunday that it was “heartbreaking” to be in the courtroom over the trial of the former police officer accused of killing Floyd.
The much-anticipated trial of Derek Chauvin began on Monday with a video showing Floyd’s final moments. The 45-year-old chauvin pleaded guilty of unintentional second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
Due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, only one member of the Floyd and Chauvin families can attend the Minneapolis trial, a judge ruled in the case.
Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, told CNN’s Jim Acosta that as a black man – who has also been a civil rights attorney throughout his professional life – he believes Chauvin will be convicted.
“My heart was broken before studying the American legal system,” said Crump.
Crump said he was shocked when defense lawyers accused the crowd outside of Cup Foods and that “the only thing that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive violence”. Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that bystanders at the scene of Floyd’s death had turned into a threatening crowd. This in turn distracted the officers, Nelson said.
One thing that Crump found compelling, he said, was the testimony of Jena Scurry, a 911 dispatcher from Minneapolis, who led officers to the Cup Foods store, the scene of Floyd’s death. Scurry called a police sergeant to express concern about the arrest on the day Floyd died and said, “I don’t know if they used force or not.”
“My instincts told me something was wrong. Something was wrong. I don’t know what, but something was wrong, ”Scurry said as she watched the video. “It’s been a long time.”
Crump described Scurry’s comments as a “bombshell”. Crump also shared the testimony of Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the Minneapolis Police Department’s top homicide detective, who said Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck after handcuffing him was “totally unnecessary”
“It says something when you have the top police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department who also say this is one bridge too far,” Crump said. “You knew that you shouldn’t keep someone so covered where they can’t breathe. Yet you did and you did it even after he passed out. “
What Crump didn’t like during the first week of the trial was the defense’s strategy of bringing up Floyd’s drug use. The use of fentanyl and methamphetamine were among the “significant conditions” identified at Floyd’s autopsy. His friend Courteney Ross, 45, said on her testimonial that she and Floyd were addicted to opioids.
“It will keep antagonizing them when (defense attorneys) try to tell them that the cause of his death wasn’t what they saw in this video, but some traces of drugs that were found in his system,” Crump said. The family is expecting it, he added, and they are prepared for the defense strategy.
Chauvin’s trial is set to continue on Monday.