WATCH LIVE: Opening Statements Begin in George Floyd Murder Trial

The George Floyd Square is seen the day before open statements in the trial of former police Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis (Reuters)

Opening statements are underway in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin — with jurors seeing a photo of the former Minneapolis cop with his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

Prosecutors are opening first, with Jerry Blackwell, a private attorney appointed by state Attorney General Keith Ellison to serve on the prosecution team, doing the duties.

“You will learn that on May 25, 2020 that Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd,” Blackwell told jurors, “that he put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath — no, ladies and gentlemen — until the very life was squeezed out of him.”

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, will open next.

The case is likely to hinge largely on viral video of the fatal encounter and evidence relating to Floyd’s health — with Nelson arguing that drugs ingested by Floyd, as well as a pre-existing heart condition, played a role in his death.

Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, who heads the prosecution team, is expected to argue during the trial that Floyd died as a result of Chauvin pressing his knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes, despite Floyd’s repeated pleas that he could not breathe.

Two separate autopsies, including an independent review, ruled the death a homicide.

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SOURCE: New York Post, Rebecca Rosenberg and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon