The murder case against former officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd went to the jury on Monday in a city on edge against another round of unrest like the one that erupted last year over the harrowing video of Chauvin with his knee on the Black man's neck.
The jury of six white people and six people who are Black or multiracial began deliberating after nearly a full day of closing arguments in which prosecutors argued that Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd last May in a way that even a child knew was wrong.
The defence contended that the now-fired white officer acted reasonably and that the 46-year-old Floyd died of a heart condition and illegal drug use.
After closing arguments were done, Judge Peter Cahill rejected a defence request for a mistrial based in part on comments from California Rep. Maxine Waters that protesters could get more confrontational if there is no guilty verdict.
The judge told Chauvin's attorney: “Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
He added: “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch.”