All the major broadcast and cable networks carried the closing arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murder in the death of George Floyd.
“This was an intentional act that you see before you. He did this on purpose,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher told jurors in Minneapolis. “…This was also unlawful force. Officers are only authorized by law to use reasonable force, and this was not reasonable force.”
“George Floyd did clearly not consent to having defendant’s knee on top of him for nine minutes and 29 seconds. When you hear someone gasping for breath, calling for their mother, begging him to get off, how could you think anything else that he did not consent to this?”
Schleicher also told the jurors to “use your common sense” and to “believe your eyes.” He also said that “reasonable doubt” did not mean that they had to accept “nonsense” from the defense.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. His attorneys have claimed that Chauvin used reasonable force and that Floyd’s death was due to pre-existing ailments and drug use.
Networks are firming up plans for coverage of the verdict, possibly coming in the next few days after the jury enters deliberations, with correspondents in place in Minneapolis. Thousands of National Guard troops are fanned out on the streets of the city, while businesses have been boarded up and fencing placed around key buildings.
All the networks are planning for extended coverage and the reaction.
ABC News’ Nightline co-anchor Byron Pitts is reporting from Minneapolis, with correspondent Alex Perez and Kenneth Moton, co-anchor of World News Now and America This Morning.
Craig Melvin, co-host of NBC’s 3rd Hour of Today and MSNBC anchor, is in Minneapolis, and others on the ground for the network’s platforms include Gabe Gutierrez, Shaquille Brewster, Meagan Fitzgerald and Ali Velshi.
CNN’s Sara Sidner and Omar Jimenez, who covered Floyd’s death and the protests that followed, as well as the trial, will also be there this week.
Meanwhile, news outlets are expressing alarm at the treatment of journalists covering the protests in Brooklyn Center following the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man shot during a traffic stop. Police officials said an officer shot him when she mistook her gun for a police taser.
In a letter over the weekend to Governor Tim Walz and other state law enforcement officials, attorney Leita Walker wrote that law enforcement officers “have engaged in widespread intimidation, violence and other misconduct directed at journalists that have interfered with their ability to report on matters of intense public interest and concern.’ She noted that some of the incidents took place even after a judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting state police from a series of acts, including orders for journalists to disperse, using pepper spray or tear gas on reporters and seizing equipment.
Walker, representing almost 30 news organizations, pointed to the case of CNN producer Carolyn Sung, an Asian American journalist. She said that last Tuesday, Sung was thrown to the ground and arrested by state troopers for failing to disperse.
The officers then zip tied her hands behind her back and arrested her, even after she showed her credentials, while a network security agent was briefly detained and then released after showing his ID.
Walker also said that one of the officers yelled at Sung, “Do you speak English?” Sung was latter taken to Hennepin County Jail, “where she was patted down and searched by a female officer” who put her hands down her pants and in her bra. She also was fingerprinted and electronically body scanned, “and ordered to strip and put on an orange uniform before attorneys working on her behalf were able to locate her and secure her release, a process that took more than two hours.”
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