MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The lawyer representing the family of George Floyd declared that “this murder case is not hard” — as Rev. Al Sharpton and supporters joined Floyd’s family outside of a Minneapolis courthouse Monday ahead of the murder trial against the former police officer accused of killing him.
“Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all,” Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump said outside of the Hennepin County District Court shortly before he is due to make his opening statements in the trial of ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin.
“This murder case is not hard when you watch that torture video of George Floyd,” Crump said, adding, “The facts are simple – what killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force.”
Chauvin, who is white, has been charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection to the May 25 death of Floyd.
Prosecutors say Chauvin had his knee pinned on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds before the unarmed black man ultimately died.
Chauvin, 45, was captured on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck while arresting the 46-year-old for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a local grocery store.
While face down on the ground, a handcuffed Floyd can be heard in the video at times saying that he cannot breathe and calling out for his mother before falling unresponsive.
“If George Floyd was a white, American citizen and he suffered this painful, torturous death with a police officer kneeling on his neck, nobody, nobody would be saying, ‘This is a hard case,’” Crump said.
Floyd’s death sparked both nationwide and global protests against police brutality and for racial justice.
“George Floyd didn’t kill anybody. Derek Chauvin was the person who killed George Floyd,” said Crump.
Floyd’s brother, Rodney Floyd, told the crowd, “Please don’t be entertained by the lies they’re going to throw out on him. The truth is…he was murdered in the streets.”
Terence Floyd – another brother of George Floyd’s and a Brooklyn resident – said he watched the infamous video numerous times, but not to “disgust” himself.
“That was the last time I could hear his voice,” Terence said. “So I watched it. Every time I watched it, it made me strong.”
At 8:46 a.m. local time, Floyd’s family and backers took a symbolic knee for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds with Sharpton calling out the minutes as they passed.
“Last May, this nation and world witnessed a lynching by knee of George Floyd,” Sharpton said. “We are here to see the case of a man that used his knee to lynch a man, then blame the man for the lynching.”
Referencing the time Chauvin had his knee planted Floyd’s neck, Sharpton said: “What kind of venom, what kind of hatred do you have that would make you keep pressing down that long while a man is begging for his life, while a man is begging for his mother.”