Chauvin chooses not to testify at George Floyd murder trial

Minneapolis (AFP) –


Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin said Thursday that he will not testify at his murder trial for the death of George Floyd and will invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Chauvin told Judge Peter Cahill that he would exercise his Fifth Amendment right and would not take the witness stand.

"I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today," Chauvin said.

"Is this your decision not to testify?" the judge asked the 45-year-old former police officer, who was wearing a grey suit with a dark blue shirt and blue tie.

"It is your honor," Chauvin said.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, asked him if he understood that "neither the state nor the court can comment on your silence as a sign or an indication of your guilt."

Chauvin said he understood.

Nelson said he expected to rest the defense case on Thursday and the prosecution said they would call a final rebuttal witness.

Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a video that went viral kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, for more than nine minutes during his May 25, 2020 arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.

A bystander video of the arrest went viral and sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

- 'Low level of oxygen' -

Chauvin's defense claims Floyd's death was due to underlying health conditions and consumption of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Medical experts called by the prosecution said Floyd's death was caused by a "low level of oxygen" from the neck restraint and not due to drugs or pre-existing conditions.

Several police officers have testified that excessive force was used on Floyd and Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin had violated the department's training policies and its "values."

Nelson asked the judge on Monday to sequester the jury after protests erupted in Minneapolis following the police killing of a 20-year-old Black man.

The judge denied the request and said the jury would be sequestered after closing arguments, which are expected on Monday.

Kim Potter, the police officer who shot dead Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser, was arrested Wednesday on manslaughter charges.

Minneapolis has been roiled by nightly violent protests after Potter's shooting of Wright in his car on Sunday.

Racial tensions were already high in the midwestern US city over the Chauvin trial.

Potter, a 26-year police veteran who resigned after Wright's death, faces a maximum of 10 years in jail if convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

She is due to appear in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing after being released on $100,000 bail.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge -- second-degree murder.

A conviction on any of the counts against Chauvin will require the nine-woman, five-man jury to return a unanimous verdict.

A 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin was fired from the force after Floyd's death.

Three other former police officers involved in Floyd's arrest are to be tried separately later this year.