What to expect as opening statements begin Monday in Derek Chauvin's trial

Chauvin faces three charges in connection to George Floyd's death last summer.
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Derek Chauvin

Derek Chauvin

All eyes are on Minneapolis as opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer captured on video kneeling on George Floyd's neck for more than 8 minutes, begin Monday. 

The prosecution, led by Matthew Frank of the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, will share opening remarks Monday morning, where they'll explain the charges and their plan for trying to prove he's guilty of them, Mary Moriarty, a longtime public defender, explains in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder in Floyd's May 25, 2020, death. 

The defense can then provide opening statements but isn't required to at this time. 

After opening statements, the prosecution will call its first witness, who will then be cross-examined by the defense. 

The prosecution and the defense have "hundreds" of potential witnesses they may call during the trial, KARE 11 notes

The trial is expected to last 2-4 weeks. At the center of the case will be Floyd's cause of death, the Star Tribune says, noting Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill has said "Clearly there is a cause of death issue here — in fact, it is highly contested."

Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests and prompted a national reckoning on racial issues and social justice. And this high-profile trial — one of few officer use-of-force cases to actually get to trial — will be watched by the world. 

The Washington Post explains that despite Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson telling potential jurors this is "not about race" or "broader social issues," experts believe race will shape the trial, with many people watching to see what justice means for Black Americans. 

Meanwhile, on the streets outside the Hennepin County Government Center, which is closed to the public during the trial, people continue to demonstrate and demand justice for Floyd and all the other Black Americans killed by police. 

On Sunday, Rev. Al Sharpton, Floyd's family, and their attorney Ben Crump held a prayer vigil.

"The United States' ability to deal with police accountability is on trial," Sharpton said before the vigil, according to KARE 11

Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the MPD before he was fired after Floyd's death, is the first of four former officers to go to trial in the case. The other three men will be tried together, with their trial scheduled to begin in August. The other three officers were also fired. 

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