Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin told the court Thursday that he will not testify in his ongoing trial related to the May 2020 death of George Floyd, as the ex-cop’s defense team rested its case.
Chauvin, 45, told Judge Peter Cahill absent of the jury’s presence in the courtroom that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right and will not testify.It would have been the first time Chauvin publicly told his side of the story.
The former officer is charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was confronted by police on May 25, 2020, after he was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at nearby Cup Foods.
Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson rested his case Thursday morning. Closing arguments are set to begin Monday morning, after which the jury will begin deliberating the case at the barbed-wire-ringed courthouse, with Minneapolis on edge against a repeat of the protests and violence that broke out last spring over Floyd’s death.
The question of whether Chauvin would testify was the subject of weeks of speculation.
The risks were high: Testifying could have opened him up to devastating cross-examination, with prosecutors replaying the video of the arrest and forcing Chauvin to explain, one frame at a time, why he kept pressing down on Floyd.
But taking the stand could have also given the jury the opportunity to see or hear any remorse or sympathy he might feel. He would have been able to remove the COVID-19 mask he has had to wear at the defense table.
In this image from the video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, right, listen as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Thursday, April 8, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. ((Court TV via AP, Pool))
The only time Chauvin has been publicly heard defending himself was when the jury listened to body-camera footage from the scene last May. After an ambulance had taken Floyd away, Chauvin told a bystander: “We gotta control this guy ’cause he’s a sizable guy … and it looks like he’s probably on something.”
Chauvin was at least the second person to invoke their Fifth Amendment right. On Wednesday, Floyd’s friend, Morries Hall, was granted the right not to testify in the trial, after telling a judge he would not answer attorneys’ questions if he took the stand out of concern that he might incriminate himself.
Later Thursday, the prosecution briefly recalled a lung and critical care expert to knock down a defense witness’ theory that carbon monoxide poisoning from a squad car’s exhaust might have contributed to Floyd’s death. Dr. Martin Tobin said hospital tests that showed Floyd’s level was at most 2%, within the normal range.
And with that, both sides finished presenting their cases.
Cahill reminded the jurors they will be sequestered starting Monday, and said: “If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short.”
Fox News’ Madelin Fuerste contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.