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Local community activists say Derek Chauvin trial has implications on justice system throughout the country

Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 6:40 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - All eyes are watching the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

The prosecution and defense laid out their closing arguments Monday In the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Chauvin is charged with the killing of George Floyd.

He faces three charges.

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder which carries up to 40 years in prison. He could face up to 25 years if convicted of third-degree murder and up to 10 years for the second-degree manslaughter charge.

The jury of six white members and six Black or multiracial ones was sent off to begin deliberating after nearly a full day of closing arguments in which prosecutors argued that Chauvin squeezed the life out Floyd last May in a way that even a child knew was wrong.

The defense contended that the now-fired white officer acted reasonably and that the 46-year-old Black man died of an underlying heart condition and illegal drug use.

Although this trial is hundreds of miles away, local activists say the jury’s verdict in Minneapolis could have huge impacts here in Charlotte.

Robert Dawkins, with Action NC, told WBTV this trial isn’t just about a verdict but also about what it could mean for the justice system as a whole. He says that’s why all eyes are watching this trial to see if former officer Derek Chauvin will be convicted or not.

He said the jury’s decision could shape the conversation on race and policing in our country.

“What we’re going to see is what is the verdict going to be. If a police officer cannot be convicted of killing a man after putting his foot in his throat for nine minutes, then the judicial system, is set to where we will never have police accountability or systemic oppression,” Dawkins said.

It’s now in the hands of the jury members to make a decision on if they will convict Derek Chauvin or not.

They will have to come to a unanimous decision on his multiple charges. Otherwise, there could be a mistrial.

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