MINNEAPOLIS: Officer Derek Chauvin “had to know” he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as the Black man cried out over and over that he couldn’t breathe and finally fell silent, a prosecutor told jurors Monday as closing arguments began at Chauvin’s murder trial.
Floyd was “just a man, lying on the pavement, being pressed upon, desperately crying out. A grown man crying out for his mother. A human being,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said as he sought to convince the racially diverse jury that Chauvin’s actions as he pinned Floyd to the pavement with his knee were reckless, unreasonable and criminal.
Closing arguments began with the city of Minneapolis on edge against a repeat of the violence that erupted last spring over the excruciating bystander video of Chauvin pressing down on or close to Floyd’s neck for up to 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as bystanders yelled at the officer to get off.
The defense for the now-fired white officer contends Floyd put himself at risk by using fentanyl and methamphetamine, then resisted officers trying to arrest him – factors that combined with his heart disease to lead to his death.
But Schleicher described how Chauvin ignored Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe, and continued to kneel on Floyd after he stopped breathing and had no pulse – even after the ambulance arrived – saying he “had to know what was right beneath him.”
“George Floyd’s final words on May 25, 2020 were ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ And he said those words to Mr. Officer. He said those words to the defendant.” Schleicher said, as he pointed to Chauvin. “He asked for help with his very last breath.”
“The defendant heard him say that over and over. He heard him, but he just didn’t listen. He continued to push him down, to grind into him, to shimmy, to twist his hand for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. He begged. George Floyd begged until he could speak no more, and the defendant continued this assault,” said Schleicher, who repeatedly used the word “assault.”
Prosecutors need to prove underlying assault for

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