Hours before the trial began for the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes, Floyd’s brother said that the case is a “slam dunk” and that he and his family are hoping for a second-degree murder conviction.
“We’re feeling good,” the man, Philonise Floyd, said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show. “We know that this case, to us, is a slam dunk, because we know the video is the proof. That’s all you need. The guy was kneeling on my brother’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a guy who was sworn in to protect. He killed my brother in broad daylight.
“That was a modern-day lynching,” Floyd added.
George Floyd, who was Black, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck while Floyd repeatedly exclaimed that he couldn’t breathe.
Video of the arrest sparked outrage and prompted global protests for racial justice and against police brutality.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Floyd said a second-degree murder conviction would “clearly show that he killed my brother.”
“My brother was standing up just fine until he put him on the ground with his hands behind his back in the prone position facedown and he decided to kill my brother along with the other officers, because nobody tried to render aid,” he said.
The three other officers involved — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. They are expected to go to trial in August. All four officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death.
Chauvin’s defense is expected to claim that drug use could have caused Floyd’s death, arguing that his body contained a “lethal dose of fentanyl,” as well as methamphetamine, at the time of his arrest.
Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump said Monday that the strategy relied on “the same old playbook.”
“They’re going to try to assassinate his character — the fact that they found trace amount of drugs in his system is just a distraction,” Crump said. “The thing that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force.
“Everybody keeps trying to say, ‘This is a hard, difficult case.’ If George Floyd was a white American citizen, nobody would say this is a hard case,” he added. “What killed George was a knee on his neck when he said ‘I can’t breathe’ 28 times.”
Floyd echoed: “This is not hard case. We just want justice. We want a conviction. If you can’t get justice as a Black man in America for this, what can you get justice for, then?”
Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said later, “If this trial is hard, we’ve got two justice systems in America — one for white America and one for Black America.”
The family and civil rights leaders knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at 8:46 local time Monday morning before the start of the trial.
“What kind of venom, what kind of hatred do you have that would make you press down that long while a man is begging for his life, begging for his mother?” asked the Rev. Al Sharpton, the host of MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation.” “At what point does your humanity kick in?”
The jury is made up of nine women and five men. Eight of the jurors identify as white, four as Black and two as mixed-race. They are in their 20s to their 60s.