CHICAGO – Now that prosecutors have wrapped up their case against a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin and his legal team must make a decision about whether he’ll testify.
Doing so could help humanize Chauvin to jurors who haven't heard from him directly at trial, but it also would open him to what could be devastating cross-examination.
Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. Here's a look at some of the perils — and possible benefits — in Chauvin taking the stand:
WHY MIGHT CHAUVIN WANT TO TESTIFY?
Images from bystander video of Chauvin pinning Floyd to the pavement, his face impassive, have been played nearly every day at trial and are likely seared into the minds of many jurors.
The face mask Chauvin has been required to wear in court because of the pandemic has hidden any possible display of emotion by him during testimony. Taking the stand might be the only way for him to explain the video and show another side of himself.
“He has nothing to lose, given that that video is so damaging,” said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. “You’ve got to get up there and give an explanation. It’s a no-brainer. You have to.”
Multiple witnesses and video evidence have shown Chauvin pinning Floyd for almost 9 1/2 minutes, well beyond the time Floyd stopped moving and a fellow officer said he could not find a pulse.