United Kingdom

George Floyd: Joe Biden says he is 'praying for right verdict' in Derek Chauvin murder trial

Joe Biden said on Tuesday he was "praying for the right verdict" in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, weighing in on the case as America was on edge waiting for the jury to return its verdict.

"I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is... I think it's overwhelming in my view," he told reporters. 

He said that he called Mr Floyd's family on Monday and said he "can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they're feeling."

"They're a good family and they're calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is."

The Biden administration is privately weighing how to handle the verdict, which could be returned any minute, including considering whether the president himself should address the nation.

Jurors today began a second day of deliberations in the trial of Mr Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murder and manslaughter after kneeling on the neck of a dying George Floyd during an arrest last May.

It came after Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters was chastised by the judge in the case for telling a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters that she wanted to see a murder conviction. Judge Peter Cahill warned her comments, which were made before the jury was sequestered, could give the defense grounds for appeal.

The 12 jurors were expected to consider three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses, including bystanders and medical experts, along with hours of video evidence that make up the most high-profile US police misconduct case in decades.

Mr Chauvin, who is white, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree "depraved mind" murder and second-degree manslaughter.

After listening to closing arguments for most of Monday, the jury must reach a unanimous verdict on each charge to convict or acquit. A single hold-out would result in a mistrial, although the state could then try Mr Chauvin again.

Mr Chauvin pushed his knee into the neck of Mr Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed black man, for more than nine minutes outside the grocery store where Floyd had been accused of buying cigarettes with a fake $20 bill.

The case hinges on whether the jury believes the prosecution argument that Mr Chauvin used excessive, and therefore illegal, force that killed Mr Floyd.

The defense has countered that Mr Chauvin behaved as any "reasonable police officer" would," and sought to raise doubts about the cause of Mr Floyd's death, saying heart disease or even the exhaust fumes from the nearby police car may have been factors.

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