Derek Chauvin trial: The key evidence in the George Floyd murder case

The jury is out to make its decision on Derek Chauvin. Credit: AP

By ITV News Washington DC Producer Natasha Tierney

The eyes of the world are once again on the city of Minneapolis as it awaits to hear the jury’s verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white police officer accused of murdering George Floyd during an arrest last year.

It's one of the most high-profile court cases in US history, after Floyd's death sparked a worldwide movement against police brutality and racism.

The jurors are considering three weeks’ worth of testimony from 45 witnesses, including emergency responders, police officers, medical experts, eyewitnesses, and those who knew George Floyd most closely.

Here's a look back at some of the most significant evidence in the trial:

The bystanders

In this image from police body camera video former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin stands outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020, with a crowd of onlookers behind him. Credit: AP

First to testify were the eyewitnesses who found themselves outside the Cup Foods store in Minneapolis on the evening of May 25th, 2020.

Several spoke about the guilt they felt watching George Floyd die from the side of the road, and the enduring impact on their lives ever since.

18-year-old Darnella Frazier, whose video from the scene was played as a key piece of evidence, wept on the stand as she described how the incident has affected her.

“It’s been nights I stayed up, apologising and apologising to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life”, she told the jury.

Witness Charles McMillian becomes emotional as he answers questions. Credit: AP

Charles McMillian, 61, also cried as he described attempting to persuade George Floyd to comply with police and get in the car.

He said he felt "helpless" as he watched the officers pinning him down onto the ground.

Meanwhile Donald Williams, a trained martial arts pro who tried to intervene, told the jurors he called the police on the officers involved: “I believe I witnessed a murder. I felt the need to call the police on the police.”

George Floyd the man

One of the most moving moments in the trial came from Floyd's former girlfriend of three years, Courteney Ross.

She described how they met at a Salvation Army shelter in 2017, where he was working as a security guard.

Through tears she told the court how Floyd came up to her and asked to pray together the first time they met, and that she had offered to show him around his new hometown.

Ross also spoke openly about the pair's struggle with addiction, a key point for the defence who have argued that drugs caused Floyd's death.

She explained how their opioid addiction problems had started when they were both prescribed painkillers, and that both had tried several times since to get clean, but “addiction is a lifelong struggle.”

Courteney Ross opened up about their struggles with addiction. Credit: AP

Police testimony

Some of the most compelling testimony came from the police officers who took the stand, most testifying against the conduct of their policing colleague Derek Chauvin.

Medaria Arradondo, the acting Chief of Police for the Minneapolis Police Department, condemned Chauvin for failing to provide medical assistance, and for his 'use of force' that he said violated police protocol.

He told the court that “once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped."

Another colleague from the Minneapolis Police Department, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, also said that Chauvin's 'use of force' was "totally unnecessary" in the circumstances.

Lt. Richard Zimmerman of the Minneapolis Police Department testifies. Credit: AP

For the defence, Minneapolis Park Police officer Peter Chang was called to provide his version of events, supporting their argument that Chauvin and the other officers felt threatened by the crowds watching.

Chang said the bystanders became "very aggressive towards police officers" and that he was "concerned for the officers' safety" at the time.

The medical experts

At the centre of this trial lies one main question - what caused George Floyd's death?

Both sides called on a number of medical experts to make their case.

Most striking was Dr. Martin Tobin, a world-renowned lung specialist who testified twice for the prosecution.

Taking the jury through each step of Floyd's arrest in vivid detail, he concluded that there was no evidence to show George Floyd had overdosed on drugs, but rather that he had died from a lack of oxygen that damaged his brain and stopped his heart "as if a surgeon had gone in and removed a lung".

This was caused directly by Derek Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck, said Dr Tobin.

Dr Martin Tobin said it was like Floyd's lung was removed. Credit: AP

Meanwhile Dr David Fowler - Maryland's former Chief Medical Examiner - was called by the defence.

He testified that in his opinion the death would be classified as "undetermined", and that George Floyd more likely died from cardiac arryhthmia, caused by his underlying heart condition and the drugs in his system - both theories the prosecution witnesses were quick to dispute.

Dr Fowler also raised the possibility that carbon monoxide from the police car's exhaust pipe could have contributed to Floyd's death, a theory that Dr Tobin was called back by the prosecution to dispel.

What happens now?

Following the closing arguments from both sides, the jury will now need to consider all of the evidence and reach a unanimous verdict on whether Chauvin is guilty of any or all of three charges: manslaughter, third-degree murder, or - the most severe charge - second-degree murder.

If convicted of that, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison.