Virginia Union University professor says Chauvin trial outcome will have big impacts moving forward

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Minnesota jury is pondering opening statements in the Derek Chauvin murder trial Monday.

The former Minneapolis police officer is accused of killing George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes. A video of the incident sparked protests worldwide.

“I honestly know some of my colleagues in other countries who hit me up through LinkedIn and social media who saw that video,” said Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, provost, vice president of student affairs and a professor at Virginia Union University.

Strayhorn said the case caught a lot of attention since it happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Overnight, there was something different to look at but it was devastating, it was breathtaking, it was offensive, it was horrific,” Strayhorn explained.

Chauvin pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. Dr. Strayhorn pointed to similar trials in the past.

“We’ve seen this in every single case, almost all of them are either hung juries or the person faces no charges,” he told 8News.

The first day of Chauvin’s trial focused on what caused Floyd’s death. The prosecution said Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck killed him. The defense pointed to Floyd’s drug use and an untreated heart condition.

However, Strayhorn believes there is a bigger question this trial will answer.

“This will give us another temperature read on exactly how far we’ve come and whether or not we will hold a person accountable for taking a life, and taking a Black life, and taking a Black man’s life,” he said.

Chauvin’s trial is expected to take one month. The three other officers charged in Floyd’s death will be tried in August.

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