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Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for more than nine minutes, is set to go on trial this week.Since the incident on May 25 2020, protesters rallied for Chauvin to be sentenced. The three other former officers involved in the death of Floyd – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao – face aiding and abetting charges. They will go on trial on August 23.

Later today, jury selection will begin at the Hennepin County Government Center; the process will last for three weeks. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill is a key player in the trial. However, unlike the judge, the identities of the 12 jurors will remain secret.

According to CBS, opening statements from jurors will be released by March 29. The trial will last between two to four weeks, then the jury will deliberate the verdict. The process will be complete by the end of April. If Chauvin is guilty, Judge Cahill will schedule a further sentencing hearing.

Officials released Chauvin on a $1 million bond, but faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors must prove that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death whilst attempting to commit a related felony – third-degree assault. They must also prove that Floyd died because of Chauvin’s ‘culpable negligence’ and unlawful level of force. In Minnesota, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

On March 5, the prosecution triumphed after they re-instated a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. Judge Cahill originally dropped the charge in October, but it has since been repealed.

Police officials are on a high alert this week due to the trial with a plan in place. Operation Safety Net aims to protect lawful non-violent protests whilst preventing large-scale violent protests. According to CBS, the Minnesota Governor Tim Walz authorised a $1 million fund to erect barricades near city hall.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Judge Cahill is limiting attendees in the courtroom. This means only one member of George Floyd’s family can attend at a time, which has led to great disappointment. However, with the trial underway and the prediction of mass protests, this could soon change.

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